Birthday Parties are Stupid
One giant nightmare for parents everywhere is children’s birthday parties. They are year round swarms of kids who arrive at house after house to eat and mess things up, much like locusts, and parents who are forced to spend money on children who aren’t their own. For the sake of every parent’s sanity, birthdays should be restricted to family affairs, not the money and time suck that our society seems to demand. Nobody cares that Johnny is 8 besides Johnny’s family. It isn’t the kids who buy the presents for each other; every invited kid is paired to a stressed out parent who is forced to look for a socially acceptable present while blocking out an entire day of their schedule for a child that is irrelevant to them. And, the kid who is invited only cares insomuch as he’s going to get free party favors, cake, and a chance to run around like he does every day anyway. Birthday parties are an utter waste of resources and time.
Kids don’t have money, parents have money. If my child were to invite 10 friends (and that’s modest compared to what I’ve witnessed) to his birthday party then that means there are at least 10 parents, but possibly up to 20, who are now obligated to spend their time buying my child a gift. Kids have figured out that the more friends they invite the more presents they’re going to get. Parents just blindly follow along with this little scheme all the while labeling it a socially important ritual. They resign themselves to these periodic disturbances of their schedules as if they must. If fact, because of the great pull of peer pressure, it’s true, they must. Nobody wants to be the spoil sport. And, once they are obliged to come, nobody wants to be the one with an inferior gift. Consider it a birthday arms races. Whatever happened to a cake, a gift, and a kiss on the head? I for one am resolved to celebrate my boys’ birthdays without fanfare. Gifts and hoards of kids do not demonstrate a family’s love for each other. I am not going to oblige anybody to celebrate an event that they don’t care about.
There is a Time for Reunion
There is a time and a place for everything. Parties are great; social get-togethers are a necessary part of our social health. I don’t think it should take place at birthday parties though because birthdays are one sided affairs. The time to get together and to party should be reserved for football games, Halloween parties (and the like), block parties and, for kids, sleep-overs. Kids do sleep-overs all the time. Parents might think they’re annoying, but at least there are no presents involved and all the kids are having the same level of fun (except the kid who pees the bed). When I was little we had next door neighbors who used to have a party every New Years. The adults would be upstairs socializing while the kids would be downstairs having a kid party. When midnight came we would all get together and bang pots and pans and yell like crazy, then go home. That’s my idea of a good time, just a good old fashioned party with no strings and no expectations (apart from staying up until midnight). Neighborhood Christmas parties are also fun. As I remember, the only obligation anybody had was to possibly bring a pie and a bottle of wine. That’s reasonable. And, all the kids had their time to socialize too.
Field Trip Parties
Another excellent reason to skip birthday parties altogether is the dreaded Chuck E. Cheese visit. The food is terrible, and the place is a mess of germs and misbehaving little turds. I won’t entirely denigrate the restaurant because I’ve been there several times with just family and, in those circumstances, it is bearable. However, a group of screaming party goers is more than I would be able to handle. Kid themed restaurants are a nightmare. What about movie themed birthday parties?
Imagine being a parent trying to keep a group of hopped-up-on-sugar boys quiet during a movie. I’ve been at the movies while a party is taking place. It isn’t pleasant. Other movie goers should not have to endure that. Chuck E. Cheese and the movies are huge sucks on parents’ mental energy. What if a kid gets hurt? Or goes to tell his mom afterwards that you, the responsible parent, did something horribly wrong? I don’t want to deal with that. I want sit around my dining room table and have cake with my family and open a few presents. Then, if we do an activity, it will be just us or other family and close friends. It will not be a mass of random school friends who are only around to give me a hard time and get free stuff.
While I appreciate the passage of years as much as the next person, I refuse to contribute to the mess that has become children’s parties. If Neil or Alan are asked to attend a party I suppose I will be obliged, along with every other unwilling parent, to waste my time and money on a kid I frankly don’t really care about. For my part I will celebrate my kids’ birthdays as private affairs and save the merriment for holidays and other acceptable social events. I simply don’t think birthdays fall into that category.