Dear Son #1,
I can’t believe you’re six years old already, I know I say that every year but it’s true. It honestly felt like yesterday that you almost arrived on a friend’s couch 2 ½ weeks early. The couch has since found a new home to my understanding, and I have always wondered if the new owners know it’s history, but never mind.
I hope you had a great birthday and felt very loved and special through it all, because you are. I don’t know if you remember, but back in September you went to a birthday party for a schoolmate of yours and on the way home asked me the question I’ve always feared:
“Can I have a birthday party?”
Oh. Dear. God.
Kids’ birthday parties. A thing of obnoxious noises, bad smells, and sticky fingers by van-load with the promise of all surfaces covered in over-stimulating decorations, wrapping paper, tissue paper, chip crumbs, half-eaten cookies and remnants of chocolate cake. And kids. So many other people’s kids as well as my own skidding around in their dirty socks with a manic look in their eyes—yelling, screaming, demanding, crying, giggling, roaring, and not sharing. All having a contest to see who’s the loudest, who’s the most hopped up on sugar, and who’s got the most icing rubbed over their face like a wrinkle cream. Utter chaos.
Kids’ birthday parties. So many expectations. Not only am I expected to host this playdate of epic proportions, but parents actually expect to leave their kid and come back for them three hours later. NO. WAY. Everyone is going to suffer alongside of me and we can drink wine, eat Doritos and hide from the kids together. Then the venue (honestly, I feel like my wedding was less complicated) if I don’t want our house destroyed by pizza sauce and Cheezie dust then I need to host the party somewhere else, and apparently a cheap McDonald’s party isn’t a thing anymore. I’m talking about taking out a second mortgage to fund a 3-but-feels-like-25-hour party at a kid-entertaining-and-feeding place that charges extra for every item under sun from plastic forks to toilet paper. And how many kids do you want to be invited to this? I nearly had a heart attack when I heard that better parents than me actually invite ENTIRE CLASSES to these parties. And since we don’t live in the time of Little House in the Prairie, that’s an average of 24 kids. So, that’s the potential of 24 kids that need to be fed, watered, entertained, and kept alive in order for you—my dear birthday boy—to have happy childhood memories. And let’s not forget the cake in the shape of something impossible, overpriced decorations and balloons in the shape of the Batmobile, games that usually end in tears somehow, grab bags and presents—oh my.
Kids’ birthday parties. Something I’ve always avoided hosting and mostly avoided attending because—worse than being locked in a room full of wind chimes or trapped in a field with a pack of rabid horses—they are terrifying beyond belief.
“Can I have a birthday party?”
Do you remember my response when you asked that dreaded question?
“Sure. Let’s have a birthday party.”
So, we had a birthday party.
And it was great. We invited seven kids that we knew and drop off was not an option because I’m not insane. We didn’t have a five-course meal but we did have snacks with Dorito dust, and I made a pretty awesome monster truck cake with green and chocolate icing. I bit the bullet and had it at our house with vacuum and mp standing by. It was loud, manic, and over-stimulating beyond belief; but it was fun, relatively simple and–deep breath here–I would probably do it again.
Why? Because it was worth it.
It was worth it seeing you, your friends and your brothers having such a great time trashing the house; it was worth it watching you open your presents and blow out the candles on your cake; and it was worth it just to say that I swept mini hot dogs off the stairs and from under the beds. Because I’m not sure how many times I’ll get to say that in my lifetime.
I hope you had a great birthday buddy and that it met all of your expectations. At least you know at this point to set them pretty low.
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