A mother's rant

>> 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?

Sigh...

10 comments:

Stephanie March 27, 2010 at 7:42 PM  

Wow! Things sure have changed. I totally agree with you that all sounds totally mad...Peace, Stephanie

thasnifty March 28, 2010 at 9:34 AM  

I so don't get this either!
I wonder when this started happening. I find it just plain rude. ugh.

I am late in replying to comments left on my blog a few weeks past as I was outta town. I am so glad I finally stumbled onto your blog this weekend. You mentioned my anchor hocking glassware of which you had some growing up, and now sadly my 7 year old son has broken my big pilsner and a small needle etched cordial too Thank God I only paid 50 cents or so. I only have my blog pics to remind me of my pretties.

Anyhow, I love your blog and your art. The jewelry is beautiful. I am now a follower. Thanks so much for stopping by.

-brightest blessings-
Karina

The Crazy Suburban Mom March 28, 2010 at 4:18 PM  

Yes, I did notice this at some parties with my son but not as many as now - I don't really know how to address this with other parents but I agree with you. I really do. I guess with many parents the party is 'the event' not the giving and not the gathering... I dont know.

I dont really get it. I guess there isnt time for this fit in anymore.

sad

JAS March 28, 2010 at 4:21 PM  

I think the moms like to let the kids play as much as possible at these parties and they only have so much time. I agree though it's just too much. I had house parties for my girls this year and the kids had a great time and they were reasonable.

I know how you feel about the presents not getting opened. I always spend time a lot of time picking out a gift and I like to see the reaction when they open it and so do my girls. It's just not the same anymore and I think it's sad.

Bottom line kids just want to be with their friends on their birthdays. It's sad that that simple fact gets lost.

Storm, The Psychotic Housewife March 29, 2010 at 2:00 AM  

It's the parent's lack of manners more than anything else, I'm afraid. I've always done thank you notes for everything we've received for the kiddo, and I think I've gotten maybe 1 card back in return for everything I've done over the last few years for others.

Hot Rocks March 29, 2010 at 7:41 AM  

I totally agree with you! Part of the pleasure of giving a gift is watching the recipient open it. This is just wrong, greedy, and rude not to take the time to open and THANK the child for the gift received. I also agree with party size...10 kids or less is enough! The birthday child is already overwhelmed. My youngest is now 12 yrs old, and parties of that sort are finished...now he has 1 or 2 buddies go for a movie, pizza or sleepover. This is just way too much excess..how many kids need 20 or 30 gifts anyhow?!

Tara Beaulieu March 29, 2010 at 11:59 AM  

Thanks for the comments, ladies. I think it's really just about the acknowledgment (or lack thereof). They don't even thank you for coming and bringing gifts- just pile them in the corner and ignore them. I have a 13 year old, so as I said in my post, I have done the Chuck E Cheese thing, the bowling alley thing, etc. We always opened the presents there and none of the kids every whined that they didn't have enough play time. Of course, we only ever invited the entire class ONCE (and at that it was about 18 kids not 25).

But still, we made sure that Austin knew who each gift was from, that he thanked them there after he opened it and then followed up with a thank you note afterwards. It's just good manners as I see it.

Maybe it's the cranky talking because I'm still sick...

John | English Wilderness March 30, 2010 at 2:20 AM  

I know one family with two young girls. When it's one girl's birthday the other gets a present too so she doesn't feel left out. Crazy :-(

The Crazy Suburban Mom March 30, 2010 at 11:47 AM  

Honestly, Im with you. I had some friends over to celebrate my son's grad from guitar school - I didnt say to bring gifts but they did and I had him write thank you notes.

Yes, I made him sit down and do it but I thought it should be done. Period.

You feeling better? You're so quiet

Tara Beaulieu March 30, 2010 at 12:03 PM  

OMG Tracy, I feel like a zombie. Not to give TMI but I feel like there is a nonstop fountain of mucus in my head and it never lets up! My ears are clogged so I go back and forth between not hearing anything or everything sounding amplified within my head. It makes for a very cranky and uncrafty me. :(

I DID have a craft night last night though and took some pics so I'll blog shortly. I have a custom order to finish first.

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