Is it just me or is there a birthday party, like, every week?
I guess it's inevitable when you have multiple school-aged kids. But I swear every time I turn around, one of my sons is bringing home some sort of invitation. I should probably be happy that they're invited to stuff ... not like some kids who didn't get invited to the birthday party of the most popular boy in the 4th grade even though every single other person in the class got an invitation.*
*I may be referring to myself. But I'm not bitter or anything.
Anyway, even though I should be thrilled that my kids are being included in events and developing active social lives, my first thought is always, "Damn. Another present to buy." Because y'all? I'm currently wearing a tattered bra that I bought on clearance at Walmart ... like two years ago. I use my lip balm until I literally have to scrape the last remnants of it out of the tube with a toothpick. I consider chewing gum a luxury. But every time there's a party, I have to fork over $20 (from my decade-old, held-together-by-threads billfold, no less) to buy a shiny new whatzit for Suzy or Billy. And with three kids in school, it seems like I spend at least sixty bucks a month on other people's children. That's far more than I spend on toys for my own kids, who really only get things on their birthdays or Christmas.
Not only that, but the parties themselves present their own set of problems. First of all, there's the dreaded question of whether you can drop your kid off or whether you actually have to stay for the whole thing. I say that because in terms of things I don't like to do, staying for a kid's birthday party that I'm not personally hosting ranks right up there with, say, running a marathon ... in ninety degree heat ... wearing stilettos ... with a wedgie. I think parents staying at parties is kind of a new phenomenon because I don't ever remember my parents being at any of the birthday shindigs I attended as a kid.
Then there's the question of what to do with the remaining siblings who aren't at a birthday party and are whining, "But I want to go! It's not fair! We never get to do anything fun!" Which means we usually end up forking over even more money for ice cream or a movie or some kind of special thing.
And then when the party-goer does get home, he is hopped up on sugar and bearing a goody bag full of things that he and his brothers will fight over because there's not enough fill-in-the-blank (candy, toy dinosaurs, pencil erasers, googly-eye glasses) for all of them. So then I've got to moderate squabbles and oversee negotiations and say things like, "Sorry, but those are your brother's googly glasses," and "Please don't tease your brother with the googly glasses" and "Let's put the googly glasses up on the top shelf of your closet if you don't want anyone to bother them" when the whole time I'm really just wanting to stomp on the googly glasses and throw them the hell away so nobody has any googly glasses any more.
The good part is, it's almost summer and the party invitations will be diminishing. For the next few months all I'll have to worry about is an onslaught of kids knocking down my door: "Can so-and-so come out to play?"
At least that doesn't cost anything. Maybe I'll buy some gum.