Birthday-Party Pooper


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.

Hmmph.

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.



30 comments:

  1. A friend sent her boy with a gift certificate, to be used at a later date, for a trip to the movie theater. So not only does he or she kid get a movie, but mommy gets a break from one of her lil angels for a couple hours. BEST IDEA THIS WEEK!

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    1. That is an AWESOME idea!! And less than $20 (unless you buy multiple tickets). Score!!

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  2. I hear ya! I have 3 kids and whenever one is invited to something there is such a huge battle over it. Theres the gift with the bag and then the gas to take them and all of the other junk that goes with it. Not fun for us moms

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    1. YESSSS. And you want to buy an inexpensive gift, but if it's too inexpensive you look cheap ... ugh. :)

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  3. Oh my gosh, this is the blog post I am afraid to write, because every single person I know will be offended. I hate kid parties like I want to run a marathon, in the heat, wearing stilletos and with a wedgie. I have a strict $6 budget too. So yes, we're that family that gives you a notebook and crayons, but I don't care. And now our kids think they need to have friend parties as well .... guh!

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    1. I'm sure I've offended someone, too, but it is what it is. :) We just gave someone a coloring book and crayons at the last party ... but by the time I bought that and a gift bag and a bow it was STILL $14! *sigh*

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  4. Great blog...I havd 3 boys and yes a party every 2 weeks pretty much. Disco next weekend. I rarely stay..unless mum is a good friend and they need my help;-) gift vouchers are the way forward for pressies. Check out my blog we have alot of shared values www.mrsmummypenny.co.uk

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    1. I wish I could rarely stay at parties - but I swear that here in Iowa it's normal for all parents to stay! Blah! :)

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  5. That's exactly why you and your siblings never had birthday parties! We always opted for family get-togethers instead. I never enjoyed planning parties, enduring a house full of kids that weren't mine, or obligating other parents to provide a gift to add to the clutter we already had with five kids in the house. (And that kid who didn't invite you in the fourth grade was a jerk anyway. No resentment here either! LOL)

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    1. Yep - I remember the ONE birthday party I had. It was at McDonald's and I broke my finger going UP a slide. I'm sure that didn't deter you from planning any more or anything ... :p

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  6. My daughters are only in 1st grade this year, but we've yet to attend on of these parties. Mostly because I'm overcome with fear of the awkward situation of being the only Mom for their class to actually show up and having to make small talk with perfect strangers and their family members whom are just sitting there wondering who this chick is, and why she's even there.

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    1. WORD! That's what I hate about staying too ... oh, the awkwardness!

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  7. I hate birthday parties too, and whenever I DO get the displeasure of having to go to someone else's, I always get the dreaded MOM GUILT thing going because I don't spend a million dollars and a million hours on decorations and custom painted placemats, and 10 different hand designed party games. My kids are really lucky if I even put together goodie bags, which I am seriously considering boycotting, party foul or not. Who really wants a plastic baggie full of dollar store crap that breaks or gets lost in less than a day, anyway? I tell my kids that they have to choose...a super cool party or a super cool present. They always pick present. ;) We still have a party, but it consists of family coming over, them picking out their birthday dinner, and cake, ice cream, and singing Happy Bday. Occasionally a few friends over to watch movies. That's it. Finito. And I still dread them.

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    1. Ha! I just finished a guest post about Mom Guilt for another blog a few minutes ago! :) I agree ... having the kids choose between a super cool present or a super cool party is a super cool idea!

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  8. Honestly, we don't go to all the birthday parties. We generally just go to close friends and leave it at that. Otherwise I'd probably go nuts.

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    1. I think I'm going to start imposing a limit on my kids: like three birthday parties per kid, per year. Wonder how that'll go over? :)

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  9. Hi Rita! You have three new fans in our house---perhaps four, but the youngest boy is only months old and was more interested in climbing up on the dining table while my two older boys (ages 7&9) begged me to read more of the 'funnies' which is what they have decided to call your blog. I believe your line "Stop wrapping your penis around your fork' may become a household line with my two older boys---they laughed hysterically over it and say it to eachother to get into fits of laughter. Anyway thanks for the hilarious moment. As a mom of three boys (currently 9 weeks pregnant with 4th....probably a boy) I LOVE that I get ya'll. From some major fans in Oregon.

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    1. I love it - thank you, Liv! I can just picture your boys cackling with laughter (probably because they sound just like mine!). I'm glad you guys enjoy the blog! :)

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  10. Recently I missed Master 7's birthday due to a pressing need for an appendix removal. He wasn't bothered, Dad wasn't bothered and bought a cake at the Supermarket, the other kids (and seemingly their mothers) didn't even notice! If it wasn't for the appendectomy part, I'd totally recommend a hospital stay as an excellent birthday party avoidance excuse!

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    1. Wow! I agree - there's no better excuse - but an appendectomy sounds like even less fun than a birthday party. Maybe I'll just FAKE sick. :)

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  11. Omg..you need to write a book!! I am LOVING your blog. You say what we are all afraid to say..the TRUTH!!

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    1. Wow, thank you Trish! You are too sweet! :) Actually I'm just starting a book ... so stay tuned! :)

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  12. I'm really enjoying your blog. :)

    All these birthday parties can be overwhelming. I think my TWO kids have FIVE birthday parties to attend THIS WEEK. I'm grateful, at least, that they have so many friends! #FirstWorldProblems



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    1. Thank you - I'm glad you like it! :)

      And yes, that's what I tell myself ... I could be crying because nobody ever invites my kids to anything.

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  13. I have three twelve year olds (two boys and a girl) and a three (almost four) year old boy. When we get bday party invites for the older three a present from EACH child is typically expected. I just decided a couple of years ago that it was just tough for them then.lol. We do one present from all three and it's typically from some sort of dollar store. If this isn't OK don't invite us. I've explained it to my kids and if it's a close friend then we do better on the type of gift but I barely have money for their birthday stuff much less anyone else's. I also put on the invitations to their combined party (yes I make them have one party for all three) that we would rather have the kids attend then any gifts so for parents not to worry about it! I love your blog and feel every time I read it like "whew! There is someone else who thinks like me out there.... Thought I was a freak!" Lol So thank you and keep it up!

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    1. Oh yeah, definitely - if my kids are all invited to a party they only bring ONE gift between them. Someone expects three gifts, tough luck!

      I'm glad you love my blog! Thanks for hanging out! :)

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  14. LOL, I'm facing the same exact scenario this weekend! Child #2 is going to a party and because birthday boy's brother is friends with child #1, he's also invited. Now child #3 is having a fit and will most likely will go out for ice cream (so dang expensive now-a-days!) with dad! So do I give birthday boy extra money since two of my boys are going??

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  15. This is my official apology right now for every birthday present my future son will be carting to future birthday partying events! Hope someone appreciates the cheap, handmade (read naff) presents he will attempt to make in a shameless attempt to save money!!

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  16. I've got girls, 6 &10 and a boy,13. How about throwing birthday parties. Ugh. Not cheap by any means and dammit now it's buy the teacher an end of the year gift. Cha and Ching.

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  17. This school-year I decided to become the change I'd like to see. That means I no longer put together treat bags for parties. And I tell the parents that the gift is the getting-to-get-together-with-friends. And we don't invite everyone in the classroom, just quietly invite the actual friends (meaning invitations don't get sent to school).
    And if someone brings a gift anyway, I have my birthday-child write them a thank you card. (why has this tradition gone away anyway?)
    If it's a family we don't know personally, I have no problem spending $10 max on a gift. And lots of times an invitation comes home but we've got a conflict and then it's just, well, that's too bad that you miss this one. You'll be okay. It's just life. I can't go to every party I'm invited too either. And if the invited child is potty-trained and is productive and independent at school without me, then I don't see why I have to stay at the party. People shouldn't invite more children than they feel they can safely supervise.
    Way better to feel happy doing less than to try to do it all all the time, and yell while doing it. :)
    Thanks for your blog! You nail it every time.

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