>> Saturday, March 27, 2010
So I drag myself out of bed this morning- still sick mind you- go to the toy store and hem and haw over getting a great gift for Aidan's little friend who's birthday party is this afternoon. He's only 6 so they are still doing boy/girl parties and this particular party is for a girl. Since I have 3 boys, birthday parties are my only chance to buy all the pretty little things I see for girls at the store- I go to a nice small town shop, not a mega mart, so the odds of a duplicate present are smaller and the selection of items are more unique. I really enjoy browsing around and finding something special. It helps a little too, that I am a volunteer in Aidan's classroom because I know all the kids and what they're into.
So Aidan and I settle on a really cute little jewelry box kit that his friend Dylan can design herself. It comes with all sorts of paint, glitter, "gemstones", stickers, etc and he thinks she'll just love this- Dylan is really into her jewelry. So we go to the party, it's at a gymnastics studio and the party time is all structured- this event from this time to this time, cake from this time to this time, etc. And so at 4:20 I see them gathering all the presents onto a cart. I think they must be bringing them into the gymnasium for Dylan to unwrap. Then I see the kids move to another activity (parents are up in the observation deck watching the kids through giant windows). I glance over the railing to the hallway and there I see the presents- heading towards the front door. Hmmm...
And I go back to watching Aidan. It's now 4:45 and the party is over- 4:45 on the dot. Kids are being handed favor bags and the birthday girl already has her shoes on. Parents are walking out the door. WTH? "Okay," I say, "I guess it's time to leave Aidan. Go tell Dylan goodbye and thank you and wish her a happy birthday." As we walk out the door, I turn and see Dylan's dad walking out with a studio employee- pushing the present cart out to his car. Everything totally wrapped.
Two weeks ago we were at another party. This one at the bowling alley. I stayed the entire time and helped wrangle kids, serve cake, sing happy birthday, wrangle more kids etc. When it was time to go, the presents were all still sitting there, totally wrapped.
A few months ago we were at a birthday party at a bakery. I stayed the whole time, helped kids decorate their own cakes, watched them color on their aprons, sing songs, mess around during down time, and left at the end, watching all the presents sit there on the table, unopened.
Since when did it become customary to invite children to a birthday party and then just bring all the gifts home? Especially when you're holding the party at an event place and it's all scheduled? Why is there not time allotted for presents?
I try to teach my children the joy of giving- I want them to have the pleasure of watching these kids open their gifts and see the smiles on their faces and I want them to be acknowledged with a "thank you", even if only verbally. (Which is another pet peeve- if you're not going to open the gift in front of my child, can you at least be bothered to send a thank you note so I KNOW you actually opened the thing at some point and realize who gave it to you?!)
Okay, that being said, I do understand that not opening gifts avoids the "oh, can we play with this right now?" and the whining/jealousy that might ensue but really- you can't control your kid enough and teach them to behave at a party? My kids all get that it's not their day and the presents aren't for them.
I am so tired of these giant parties with 20+ kids that cost hundreds of dollars where the children are in such a whirlwind they don't even get to spend time with each of their guests! I am not against having parties at other places, I certainly have done the bowling alley and the roller rink and the karate school before. But inviting every single child in the entire class PLUS every cousin, neighborhood kid and acquaintance?! Come on!
Can you believe I actually had a mom at Aidan's 6th birthday say to me "Aren't there any other kids coming?" I asked Aidan to invite the 10 people he wanted most (we mailed the invites so kids in school wouldn't feel left out if they didn't get one) and we had 7 kids show up. Aidan was over the moon. Why do they need more than that? We do we cram all this stuff down their throats at such a young age? There are years and years of birthday parties to come. They are only kindergartners. Seriously. A few friends, a few games (we always have to do musical chairs), pizza and cake and everyone goes home with big smiles and full bellies. Why does it need to be so much more than that these days?