I am having a small-person’s-birthday related meltdown as I write this post. Sprog’s birthday is creeping up on me, and last year it managed to take me by surprise even though I was well aware it was coming. Sprog has not shut up about her birthday, but still I have no idea what the plan is.
Of course, if I had managed to keep my legs crossed until March when she was due, the birthday thing would be a lot easier. I think that would be a good amount of time between Christmas and her birthday. But no. She decided to put me through a gruelling three day labour in February. The first week of February to be exact. Causing a sense of false security after Christmas, where I think I have two months to prepare, but in reality I only have one and it’s littered with bills and back to school, which distract me greatly from the upcoming celebration.
The problem I’m having this year is what to do/organise/buy for Sprog’s birthday. Left up to her she would be having a party at a soft play venue with her whole school class in attendance, and a mountain of princess, fairy and craft related gifts. I don’t want her to have those things, and I know that sounds mean, but bear with me.
The Party: What happened to inviting one or two friends home for birthday tea? Playground politics is what happened. Now kids seem to expect the huge, whole class invited party from about the age of five years old. I’m broke, tired and introverted, and none of those things make me want to do a big party. I don’t believe that my soon-to-be-six year old can even interact with 30 kids in the space of two hours, let alone that a child that age needs a party that size.
The Gifts: There is literally nothing that Sprog didn’t get for Christmas. With a lot of friends and family come a lot of presents, and she got everything, from new clothes and pajamas to half the cast of My Little Pony. She got books, toys, games, DVDS, a tablet (which she has already broken), a TV for her room and enough glitter to redecorate the tooth fairy’s mansion. Seriously. My child has too much, and cares for next to none of it.
The Attitude: For the past six months Sprog has repeatedly relayed to me who she will be inviting to her birthday party – a birthday party that hasn’t even been agreed or arranged. Her demands have only gotten bigger in that time, despite me warning her that it isn’t up to her if she has a party or not. On top of her exaggerated coming of age plans, there have been some serious behavioural issues, including the regular trashing of her room in a rage, drawing on walls and bedding repeatedly, lying, hiding things and destroying property solely because of her temper. I understand that it’s hard for kids to regulate their emotions, but at least some of this behaviour has been deliberate defiance, and that should really be taken into account before throwing a big birthday bash or buying presents only for them to be destroyed – like her tablet at Christmas.
The Guilt: As with all other parenting scenarios, there is a degree of Mum-Guilt to be taken into consideration here. This time it stems from various places; last year Sprog’s birthday was a tiny affair because we had just moved house and I was still battling the courts, which makes me feel like I need to make up for that this year. On top of that there’s the knowledge that most of her friends will be having big parties this year, and I don’t want her to be the odd one out at school, and to round it off there’s the same guilt that every parent feels: wanting their kids to have the very best.
So where do all these factors leave me? Do I throw her the big party but sacrifice presents? Or instead aim at a day out or a birthday meal, with a few small gifts thrown in? Do I compromise and spend her birthday with three of her closest friends running riot through my house? I haven’t a clue.
What would you do?