I don't know if this makes me a good parent or a bad parent but I'm going to confess something here. The boys have never had a birthday party. Family, best friend, yes. More than 1 friend? The whole class? Never. You make the call, I won't feel judged.
This past weekend we just celebrated our fourth birthday party in four weeks. We unfortunately missed one of those because we were out of town, but as happenstance would have it, we were able to snag a few (two too many) goodie bags. We hit Xavier's, we crashed Nates, we finished off Heather's. We are still swimming around in the murky waters of whether these parties are drop and go, or stay and play for the parents. I dropped and went for Xavier's and Nates (who had a JUMPY castle at the school cafeteria). And was planning on dropping and wenting for Heather's, who was having her party at our Sports and Fitness Edge pool. Big slide. Big splashing. Big lifeguard. Big plans on my part to hit the grocery store and pick up Chinese for dinner. Since Paul Bunyan has spent so much time teaching them how to swim, I didn't need to stay.
Well, everyone else's parent stayed. Shit. Fine. Let's watch an hour of swimming. Perfect. But after the swimming and after getting my pant cuffs wet, shoes soaked, clothes moist trying to get the boys showered and changed, I was starting to get annoyed. Now this is unfair, because I threw Claire a pool party for her 5 th birthday (or was it, 4th??). So, I've done this to people. I put parents through this same shit. Well, let me just state for the record here people...NEVER again. Because after the showering we (the parents) stood around a table of kids in a room painted in a brightly colored underworld scene and watched as the little birthday girl opened her useless plastic American Girl doll accessories, and make your own plastic princesses, and decorate your own plastic Barbie dolls. The buggers chowed down their cake and grabbed their goodie bags and we were gone.
I watched as the parents shifted their weight, giggled fake laughs, whispered directions on how to behave in their bugger's ear. And my mind it went to drifting...to the homestead.
Let me just set the scene. It's August. A perfect summer eve. The sun is still high in the sky but drifting slowly to the horizon. The yard is full, at peak, with its flowers. I don't have to decorate. I finally have my patio furniture...compfy cushions on curved couches. Parents, I made it clear that you would stay (in the invite) but that you wouldn't have to do a thing. Paul Bunyan has dug a huge hole in the yard, because well, he can. It in we've buried a bunch of stuff- old chicken bones and cool stuff like that. The little buggers will get lost in dirt, digging, making roads, finding archeological finds. Meanwhile, Paul Bunyan and me, we're serving up homemade margaritas, homemade guacamole, chips and homemade salsa, homemade seven layer dip. It's a true homemade fiest. There is no fake giggling, no watching our children or anybody else's child for that matter, no shifting of weight.
The kids splash in the pond to wash off. We've got the Dr. Bronner's. Perfect. Dinner for the kids. Easy, Speasy.
There was a request in the invite for no presents...homemade gifts only if people were so inclined. The guests were very creative and the kids presented the boys with pirate stories, poems, homemade cards, rockets, all of which could be burned or recycled when they were no longer used.
After homemade cake, every kid was handed a bag.
There was none of this:
plastic whistles that are too loud to be used inside.
balls that don't work.
key chains for kids who don't carry keys.
sharpeners that don't sharpen.
So if your child whines to you on the way home from our party about not receiving any of these fine goodie bag toys, just shut them right up and say, "Honey, that was the best birthday party I've ever been to. I'm sorry you're upset with the underwear you got in your goodie bag, but just think...it's something you can actually use. It won't break and when you're done with them, I'll use them to wash the windows." And if they whine some more, I know you won't mind too much because Paul Bunyan, well, he makes a mean margarita.