If you are a parent, you know where I am coming from. I have two kids and attending birthday parties is also one of the important things to do in my social calendar. Over the years I have seen birthday parties grow in grandeur and prominence. While I have nothing against people wanting to celebrate the birth of their child, there needs to be some rationalism when it comes to how big the event should be, especially if it is turning out to be a race rather than a fun event.
I have two kids, one a Tween and another just out of toddler group. While the younger one, by virtue of being a boy and someone who does not make too many friends, isn’t crazy about birthday’s or the grandeur of it, the older one is the exact opposite. She is someone who is quick to make friends, and because of that has attended a lot many birthday parties as compared to the younger one.
As typical parents, we celebrated both their 1st birthday’s in a grand manner. Later as my daughter started realizing how big the whole phenomenon could be, she wanted a similar birthday. She wasn’t totally wrong, I mean she was attending such parties and she too wished to have one. We decided to oblige and had told her that this was going to be a one -time affair. That party was done with and we heaved a sigh of relief. You ask why?
Well, these parties have crazy amounts of balloons! 200+ is normal which are usually bust by the end of the evening, adding to landfills or chocking animals. There are activities for which you need to pay – tattoo artist, face painter, photo booth, event manager and whatnot. There is a tremendous amount of food that is ordered and wasted. There are customized cakes made of fondant, again as the fondant is too sweet for anyone’s liking the whole fondant thing is junked which means some more wastage. Add to it the rent of the location, photographer, lighting and other extras, this is nothing short of a mega event!
Once that phase was over, there is a new trend today. The tween wants her select friends to be taken to some play zone, movie or another form of entertainment. This year I literally had a meltdown after hearing the unending expectations and repeated comparisons that she had with another friend who had a birthday around the same time. It was like they both were in a race to prove who has a better birthday! I really have no idea how to get her out of this twisted competition.
Add to it, the other girl came up with statements like ‘ My parents believe I should have a grander birthday as I grow older’ or ‘ I get multiple gifts from my relatives and then from the friends, so I have lots of presents to open!’
I don’t know if the child’s parents truly support these statements or it is just children trying to compete with each other, but my problem with such thinking is this
- Just because I have money, does it mean I need to show it off in such a brazen manner? Can’t my love be shown in the effort I put to make a great meal, or take my child to a great outing or ensure that her friends have a great time?
- Why make the kids believe that there is only one way to celebrate the birthday and that is by spending crazy amounts of cash?
- Gifts that kids get are usually neglected within a week of the birthday party, then why encourage kids to believe that lots of gifts mean a lot of happiness?
- Most gifts that are given are either something that the child already has or is something that is similar to some other gift. So most of the gifts are either recycled or simply ignored.
While we settled for a movie with her friends, such questions left me worried. I am scared to think that we are raising a materialist and superficial generation that might not know the difference between true happiness and material superiority! Do you have some solutions here? Do share in comments below as I would love ideas to have a heart to heart with my child and be better equipped to tackle this birthday syndrome next year.