Monday, September 10, 2007

What's the deal?

Kids everywhere have birthdays right? Kids of all social economic situations grow up, just like the kid around the corner or in the penthouse.

So why is there a feeling of pressure for the families to have the perfect party? Have cute meaningful favors, fun activities, bounce houses, food, and more and more guests? Some even have multiple parties. And then there are the gifts. The parent's gift has got to be a big one right? or does it? I mean, the kid IS getting a party after all! Do they really need that gift they think they HAVE to have, even though the reviews you've read about it mostly all say it really sucks?

Have little kid parties always been this big production? I admit, I remember one extravagant party in my growing up years. Namely where I got to take my friends to an amusement park and my parents made the mistake of always allowing me as many friends as the age I was turning, so this 10 year old party was PRICEY! But mostly, the parties I went to and the ones my parents threw me were about the cake, most likely some pizza, maybe some games, and a bunch of giggling girls. I certainly only remember the amusement park one, (who wouldn't?, my mom was insane!) and I think my 9th, where the biggest fun of the day was putting balloons on the canopy of my bed, blind folding each girl as she arrived and then dumping the balloons on her. Lucky for my mom, after my 10th, I was done with the parties. (well, until my 21st, but I paid for that one).

But I don't remember as a kid, that it was about who had this, and who did that. Was that pressure there, and I didn't realize it? Did the pressure come from the other parents or the kids? Where does it come from now? Or have the kids just come to expect it?

As you all know, I don't personally have kids, but I have a lot of kids through my friends and family, and I hear about these parties and listen to the stressed out mom's putting them on.

Please tell me, parents out there,... what's the deal?


ML said...

I don't have children, so I can't really answer. I am curious as to what parents will say, though.

J at said...

I don't understand these people...I will say that I get more excited for Maya's birthday than for my own, but I don't know why. We never have big parties. Usually a sleep over with a few girls, and we'll take them out for pizza. This year we went to boomers. But she went to one party a few years ago where they went to the jungle, then had a sleep over, then had ponies come for pony rides in the morning. Good thing I didn't feel the need to compete with THAT, because I can't afford it!

~Donna~ said...

Somehow kids now a days know who has and who doesn't and the pressure starts early - parents don't help in that situation either - it's awful. I never gave into it all, but Tom has on occasion. Birthdays with Spence and I are low key and small as possible. And trying to come up with inexpensive new ideas is the hardest. One year, we had 1 to 2 boys over at a time spread over throughout the summer for an overnight, pizza, and swimming. That was fun, and giving up half my weekends over the summer wasn't so bad. Like I do anything anyway. Now that he's older, it's just a few friends for pizza and a movie.

Ginger said...

I don't feel any pressure. I actually hate planning and pulling of a party (and I'm taling cake at the bowling alley not elaborate carnivals). Our children have the choice of gift from parent or party (they do get gifts at the party)and they mostly choose gift. We always have the small family gathering with cake anyway. I read somewhere people were spending thousands on these elaborate parties in rich, trendy areas of the country. Well, if you have money to burn or growing on trees, I guess...

Beenzzz said...

Sometimes Zoe gets a party and sometimes she doesn't. I think it was more fun when she was younger. Last year we took her San Diego for her birthday. This year she is going to New York. I would much rather take her some place nice than throw a party. It's too stressful having to deal with the kids. We do have a family party for her every year though.

Gina said...

I don't feel pressure, we just like having parties! And, even though I rent a jumper, I feel it is worth it's weight in gold. The party for Mr. P we have coming up may or may not be big, depending on how many people come. But, it will be just as fun with 6 people as with 12, so all is good. Then, when the kids go home, it will be family time.

C said...

Okay, we don't have any kids yet, and like ML, I am anxious to hear how parents feel about this.

Growing up, we always had big parties for our birthdays. This was due to the fact that we had such a huge extended family. It was never ridiculously expensive though. I do know that when I was growing up, there were some parents who tried to "one-up" each other when it came to throwing the biggest bash or getting the most expensive present for their kid.

I'm not sure if it was on J's blog (I think it was!) that she posted a video of a mother who gave her daughter a car for her birthday but the girl totally threw a hissy fit because it wasn't what she wanted and it was given to her not at her party or something. I think some kids just "expect" these things and don't realize the value or worth of these material things. Heck, if this is something they've been given all their lives by their parents, could you blame them?

My friend is having major problems with her teenage daughter, but now it's come to a point where she's been able to get away with so much and she's been given everything she wants, that my friend is having a hard time. She can't just change the rules all of a sudden like that. It's a tough situation and I don't know how they are going to resolve it.

Great post, Cherry. I'll sign off now, since I've written you a comment of epic proportions!
C xo

laluna said...

Do you ever watch the" Sweet Sixteen "on MTV. That show blows my mind. These spoiled little brats having fits over color coordinations or invitations or something really dumb. Yeah there is pressure to see who can out do who. It is sad, and as a result you get a bunch of pamper kids who expect the world on a silver plater.

Karen MEG said...

Well, we've had 3 "big" birthday parties for the boy... by big I mean almost the size of his entire class.

For kindergarten (junior & senior), we felt obligated to invite all the kids, as we didn't want to exclude anyone. Liam was in daycare at the time as well. So you're talking over 25 kids. I still can't believe we did it - thank goodness for those indoor playgrounds, where the kids run around, you serve pizza and cake, and in a couple of hours it's all wrapped up. Mess not in my house. We did this for 2 years.

Last year, we scaled it back with a Sportball class (had instruction by two young fellows). The kids had a blast - the instructors also helped me serve cake, pizza and goodies later, which was a bonus.

I don't think feel any pressure per se, but the kids talk and they find out who's doing what etc.. . I don't know if Liam is so susceptible to that, though, as the theme that a few kids did a couple years ago was Reptilia, and last year it was indoor trampoline or bowling. He wanted something different. To be honest, those offsite parties make it a little easier (although putting together all the loot bags etc. is something of a chore), but you pay! When you factor in the cake, food, drinks, party favours and booking fee, you're talking some serious moula - can't keep that up every year!

The thing that concerns us is the sheer number of presents that the boy gets. And expects, because it's happened for him and all of his friends. They don't want for ANYTHING and yet they still NEED something every time we're at Toys R Us shopping for .. you guessed it, birthday presents! It's total overkill. We put them away so he opens them up gradually, but he has so many he doesn't even get around to opening a lot of them. So we end up donating some to charity, but it is ridiculous.

Next year it'll be only a handful of kids and he seems OK with that. And we've started giving him an allowance and having discussions about what's important, material things etc... Especially with less disposable income now that yours truly is not yet working again.
With the little one, her BD is around Christmas, so I'd like to still give her due with some parties, but hopefully she'll be OK with more lowkey celebrations. Mind you, she's a little Diva, so we'll see.
Sorry for the novel!

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