We’ve been on the birthday party circuit this year.My children have loved it. But I’m known by my first name at Toys-R-Us, and I am feeling just a little bit shell-shocked. I have, however; learned a great deal.
I learned quickly that my children dislike most clowns and were terrified of life-sized Ninja Turtles. I learned that no matter what the books say, children under 6 hate organized games and simply will not participate on cue … no matter what the prize is. I also have learned to wince at the sight of a piñata. No one under 15 can break it open properly, and the relentless beating of this creature can get downright gruesome.
I have learned that unless you post an assertive adult guard, some kid at every party will rip open all your child’s gifts before he can open the first card. It is also wise to make sure that there are enough of any edible decorations. Anyone denied a jelly bean rock or an M&M will howl for days. They have no respect for the alleged rights of the “birthday boy” to possess the only edible decoration on the cake.
Never underestimate the excitement level of a child about to celebrate a birthday. They want the world to celebrate with them — and hopefully send a gift.
I know many moms who truly quake at the approach of their children’s birthday and are happiest when it is all behind them. In order to love kids’ birthdays, you have to love mayhem. The solution is to make it the mayhem of your choosing.
The best example of this is that I am fine with 20 kids in my backyard with hot dogs and a Slip’n’Slide. I do not care for the parties at that well-known pizza parlor or that well-known children’s recreation center. The level of noise and frenzied activity on strange turf gives me hives.
But remember. It could be worse. They could be 13 and want a sleepover.
Jean Gillette is on vacation this week. This is a column from her archives of 1992.