I guess Mother Nature FINALLY got the memo. The weather today was picture perfect...Blue skies, not a cloud in the sky, the temperature a balmy 74 degrees, the sun shining overhead. Perfect day for a birthday party in the park. Today was my niece's birthday celebration.
If you know me at all, you know I don't do children's birthday parties. I have celebrated enough birthday parties for my two older sons that I just don't do it anymore. I will go to other people's children's birthday parties, but I don't plan any myself.
There are a myriad of reasons that could keep me writing for days, but I will be concise.
1. The money is better spent on a trip that everyone can enjoy. Yes, I realize that there are many of you that would argue that a child will treasure the memories of a delightful birthday party that have set his or her parents back more than a couple hundreds of dollars. But really, for the money you spend on feeding and entertaining other people's children, YOU and your family could enjoy visiting a new place and have a shared treasured memory. Or you could be miserable. But at least you don't have to pick up after the guests.
2. Thank you notes. It's not that I am being ungrateful. But thank you note writing just stinks. How many times can you write basically the same things and STILL sound genuine? For the record, Cubans don't write thank you notes. We tell you thank you when we receive the gift, and that's it. I remember after my husband and I got married and I sent thank you notes to my relatives, they inundated my mother with phone calls wondering what these peculiar little cards were. However, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. And the Romans write thank you notes.
3. People rarely RSVP when they are supposed to. Another thing Cubans don't do is RSVP. And they like to bring additional party goers to your affair. So it is a wee bit difficult to gauge how much food and beverage necessary to have on hand, because you never really know how many people will show up.
4. You have to entertain other people's children. When you have a party of three children in your own immediate family, of differing ages, it is hard enough to figure out what you are going to do with them. Add another 15 to 20 kids, and you are really up the creek. Over the years, we have done all kinds of activities: pumpkin carving, a treasure hunt, cupcake decorating. But it still requires adult supervision. And most parents don't want to have to watch their children at birthday parties.
5. All the parents walk around with the same blank, dejected looks when they are subjected to children's birthday parties. The only thing that helps is adult beverages with a high alcohol content. Which isn't really appropriate to consume in front of other people's children, but really, how else are you going to tolerate having all those extra kids?
I know, I sound very cynical, and perhaps, that is true. Maybe it has to do with having three kids, or being a school teacher for so many years. I don't know. But there is something about birthday parties that brings out the worst in the birthday child and his or her parents.
We all start out with good intentions. We want a happy day and an easy party. What usually ends up happening is the exact opposite. We end up snapping at our spouses because they cannot read our minds regarding what we want or need and are physically unable to verbalize. The birthday child has been at the park for at least an hour setting up before the party and has either missed a nap or been woken up early, or worse, both. By the time guests arrive and pictures are to be taken, you are no longer the parent of sweet little Johnny. Your child closely resembles Damian.
I finally got smart when my oldest turned three and went to Disney World instead of the birthday party hoopla. It's not to say that it went super smooth, but there were no RSVP's to worry about, no food planning other than what we wanted to have for dinner, and there were no thank you notes to have to scrawl out after a day in the sun.
My niece's party went as smooth as to be expected. The weather was beautiful, especially after the horrible weather we have had over the last couple of months. The guests arrived late (another Cuban gift) so we had plenty of time to get everything ready, even though we were running behind schedule.
After seeing some of the younger children in attendance, I will take my Whine, Jab and Poke and Not Me any day of the week and twice on Sunday without complaint. My boys had the time of their lives on some rented double bikes that look like cars and I expect them to crash for the night at any moment.
But most of all, we were able to bask not only in the warmth of Spring's first delightful sun, but in the love that only friends and family can offer your beloved child. What a glorious way to begin Spring!