Before you put down your fondant to let me know that I'm an asshole parent, hear me out. I like parties, I really do. I enjoy celebrating my daughters' birthdays with them and we've had themed parties in the past. I've hung Little Mermaid streamers and Diego piñatas, which seemed like a great idea until I watched a horde of three-year-olds beating a replica of a child with a stick until they split him in two.
But I've never made individual Minion cupcakes or a cake that looks like Barbie's castle. (For the record, let me just say that I will never make a cake that looks like Barbie's castle.) One year we had kids make their own sundaes, which was great until a 4-year-old puked with startling force and suddenly no one was hungry anymore. Well, at least not the adults. I don't do over-the-top birthday desserts. Not that I don't want to or don't appreciate the 9 million fantastic Pinterest ideas of which I am incapable, but if I was going to make an intricate dessert, my kids would want to be part of the process. We do many projects and crafts together, but not an excessive amount in the kitchen, because I'm a control freak and a clean freak and children produce high volumes of snot. I'd end up being an asshole and my kids would be in tears. Happy fucking birthday.
So I'll leave the dragon cakes and cake pops and cupcakes that look like little hamburgers to others. My soon-to-be eight-year-old is really into birds right now. And I'm not talking Angry Birds, I'm talking American Kestrals. She wants to be an ornithologist. I'm not sure if that will last or if she just enjoys the impressed look of surprise from adults when she tells them she's going to be an ornithologist. We've purchased bird feeders, bird houses, bird books, and she gave her princess room decor to her sister and replaced it with drawings of a loon, a goldfinch, and a tree swallow. I've learned more about John James Audubon than I care to admit. The bird fascination will likely tie into her birthday and influence many of her gifts.
Beginning of the bird fascination.
Australian Rainbow Lorikeet, Emilia, age 7
For her younger sister, I predict (and will relent to) a Frozen party. And I'm perfectly capable of buying a cake with Elsa smushed on the top of it. One of her gifts will be another Frozen dress, because I'm growing tired of her asking me to do laundry so that she can wear the existing one, now near tatters, every day.
So if I'm not against having a themed birthday party why the meme? Why am I such a curmudgeon? Because the meme is not about the party. It's about remembering to have balance and not go to extremes just because we can. It's about stopping for a moment to realize how lucky we are. We have children to love, they have parents who love them, and apparently a lot of us have the time and means for extravagant birthday celebrations. Should we celebrate? Abso-frickin-lutely. But we'd also do well to remember how terribly lucky we are to be able to do so. Sure, I want my kids to feel joy, but I also want them to have the gratitude to understand that it's just as important to spread that joy.
One of the worst motives for the themed birthday party is to give your child the party you never had. Because if you're carrying around decades-old resentment about a lack of theme and fanfare, go read the meme again. That was your theme. If you had a parent or parents that recognized your birthday, even in the smallest of ways, then you hit the jackpot.
Behind all of my f-bombs, I'm a proponent for peace, love, kindness, and gratitude. But I'm incapable of expressing this without a heavy dose of sarcasm, bitchiness, and profanity.
I'm off to retrieve my kids from school. It's that best part of the day that trumps even the evening's first glass of wine. (Let's be honest, if there's a first, there'll be a second). My daughters will frustrate me and make me laugh, and I'm sure I'll do the same to them. We'll do homework, eat dinner, fold laundry, and I'll feel grateful that we can do all of these things in relative safety and comfort. And who knows? If time permits, maybe we'll even brainstorm ideas for an ornithological birthday party.
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