Wednesday, February 22, 2012

We Don't Do That Here

My son brought another one home from school on Friday. He opened up his homework folder, and handed me a piece of paper. I took a look at it, rolled my eyes, and handed the paper back to him.

It wasn't a bad report card, or a letter from his teacher.

It was a birthday party invitation.

We don't do birthday parties.

Yep, you read that right. We don't do birthday parties. I'm that mom.

Now, let me clear up a few things real quick before I explain:

  • Yes, we celebrate birthdays in my house.
  • Yes, we throw mini-parties with family on the kids' birthdays, with cake, presents, a big meal.
  • Yes, we have been to birthday parties before.
  • Yes, we have thrown big birthday parties before.
  • No, I'm not a mega-bitch. (Well, not about this anyway.)
  • No, we're not a part of some anti-birthday cult.
  • No, I will not withhold my kids from going to a close friend's party.
Now that I've begun to clear that up some, back to the birthday party invitation.
The party is for some kid whose name I've never heard before, who my son has never mentioned, i.e. not a close friend of his. 

Yes, Ginger, the party is at Chuck E. Cheese and that's cool. Yes, I happen to have off that day. No, we will not be attending.

My kids have gotten used to it by now, as horrible as that is to say. 

I just don't believe in going out and spending money on a present, taking time out of my family's day, and hanging around (because I'm not dropping him off with people I don't know) at a party for a kid that just happens to be in my son's class, but to whom he hasn't said 2 words. 

That's why we don't do birthday parties.

I know what question comes to mind now, because it's always the question I get asked when I tell people. 

If I don't take my kids to birthday parties, then do we throw birthday parties and expect the whole class to come to them?

No, we don't.

Birthdays are small here, reserved for family and extremely close friends. We've done Chuck E. Cheese, as a family, or will go to a movie, or out shopping- whatever the birthday kid wants to do. My daughter has gotten to the age of sleepovers now, so last year she had a birthday sleepover with a few close friends. And yes, she's had the big birthday party at the skating rink that cost me $115 to rent for 2 hours, sent out invitations to everyone in her class and in her daycare class, and she had 4 kids show up- that's it, 4 freaking kids. I think that's about the time I started to say 'No more birthday parties.'

My son has never been to a birthday party. My daughter has gone to a birthday sleepover before, and maybe 4 other birthday parties, but they were all of close friends she had, whose parents I had met.

Sometimes, I do feel bad about my decision. I have the thoughts go through my head that I'm holding my kids back from being kids, or from interacting with other children, or from having fun, or that I'm just being a mean mom. But then I realize that my kids see their friends at school, and have friends in the neighborhood they play with, and when I only get a few days off anyway, I like to spend them with my family, not at some stranger kid's birthday party.

Will my philosophy on birthday parties change in the future? I doubt it. I think we'll end up celebrating my kids' birthdays a little more extravagantly as they get older, but it will still be reserved for family and their close friends- not 32 kids in their class. I'm not a selfish mom; I don't want to invite 50 kids so that my kids get amazing presents, and lots of them. I see it as being more crap in my house I'd have to go through and throw out. And, I don't want my kids to be part of some popularity contest as they get older. Close friends and family are all that really matter in life; not how many people do, or don't, show up to their birthday party.

Birthday Hell
As for right now, my son's Chuck E. Cheese party flier went into the trash, just like most of the other invitations do. A 7 year old's birthday party, at Chuck E. Cheese, on the weekend? That kid has brave parents. Seriously brave.

Or, they are trying to drag as many other parents down with them as possible. They must figure, if they have to sit in hell like that, they might as well invite 30 other parents to sit in hell with them.

Not this chica. We don't do birthday parties.

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