The Politics of Children’s Birthday Parties

The Politics of Children's Birthday Parties
photo credit: Le Coin de Mel

I have never been a fan of bog standard children’s birthday parties.

You know the drill. A selection of the class are invited, usually to some lame hall or smelly soft play centre. The kids are given ridiculous amounts of junk to eat and drink, then they run around like loons for a couple of hours. At least one kid always cries.  

It can take longer than the party lasted to calm your kids down afterwards. 

Not my idea of fun

Parties for the children of real friends are different of course. The mums are my friends, and I often go early to help out with the prep. It’s a good opportunity to catch up with people we only see sporadically.  

When Polly was at school she wasn’t invited to tons of parties. She spent reception and year one walking around in a sleep deprived haze, so wasn’t particularly aware of what was going on. Which was a good thing in many respects.

She went to a couple of parties, and it was heartbreaking having to send her to them with a packed lunch. This was one of the many ‘joys’ of her allergies back then. Never being able to just eat the food that the other kids were eating. It was more hassle than it was worth, because the fallout was immense.

One party does stick in my mind though, for all the right reasons. The girl’s mum had been working in the school, and was aware of Polly’s situation. When she gave me the invitation she told me to text her with a list of Polly’s favourite treats. When we got to the party, there was a tray of food marked Polly. Her face lit up. My eyes welled up. Oh the kindness. I texted the mum afterwards to tell her much it was appreciated, but she will never really know the true extent.

The parties we throw are always fab, if I do say so myself

The Politics of Children's Birthday Parties
photo credit: Buttercup and Bee Photography

Polly’s birthday is in the height of summer, and we’ve had some cracking do’s. Last year was just perfect. The weather was glorious, and we had an amazing turn out. So many of our nearest and dearest came, and everyone had a really great time.

Freddy and Clara’s birthdays being in February make it trickier but not impossible. We had a beautiful party for Clara’s first birthday, and an awesome triple celebration two years ago for Freddy’s first birthday, Clara’s third and mine and hubby’s wedding anniversary.

Now that Clara’s at school, I’m back to viewing birthday parties with dread. She started in September, and the first party was in November. She wasn’t invited. Not only that but the little sh*t took great delight in rubbing her nose in it.

“You, you and you are coming to my party. You, Clara, are not.”

She sobbed in my arms more than once because of his cruelty.

We were going to throw her a party next month to mark turning five

the politics of children's birthday parties We were going to conform, and invite the whole class. If nothing else so she got invited to other parties in return. When push came to shove, it didn’t feel right. My instincts were screaming ‘don’t do it, don’t do it!’ 

Making the decision without consulting her didn’t feel right either though. In the end we gave Clara the choice. A birthday party or a family day out, and she chose the latter. 

So we’re off to London to see the Lego Batman movie in one of the fancy cinemas on Leicester Square. Then we’ll have lunch in China Town, and a whizz around the new Lego store for her and Freddy to pick their birthday presents.

As it turns out Clara’s best friend is having a birthday party the weekend before, so that will satisfy the party fix without it causing us too much pain. In an ideal world, my kids would go to a birthday party every few months, and we’d throw one a year ourselves, but I’m aware this is wishful thinking!

For now, I’m not even going to pretend I’m not relieved to have ducked it. 

Surely I’m not the only parent in the world who feels like this? What are your thoughts?

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