I hate it because I have to spend, what I consider to be, an unreasonable sum of money. This year, we’re going to a pottery painting place, and it will cost me close to $200.
Before you call me a bad mom and then call Social Services, hear me out. It really pisses me off because this money is not being spent for my daughter, necessarily. It’s for other parents. There is a great deal of pressure now on parents – of any income bracket – to plan a Party To Remember. Or at least one that other parents will remember, so that when it comes time to plan their own kid’s bash they suddenly find themselves booking bouncy castles and elephant rides for 25 ungrateful little brats
Don’t think this pressure is real? Check out this excerpt from a story that ran in the Globe and Mail in October last year:
…Birthdays Without Pressure, a parent-led group based in St. Paul, Minn., says more parents are outsourcing birthday parties because they’re time-squeezed, and are continuing to raise the bar for parties in their community because they’re competitive.
Research released in May by Lumos, a U.K. children’s charity, found 40 per cent of the 500 parents interviewed admitted to feeling pressure to organize more extravagant birthday parties.
~ Marlene Habib
Gross. It’s just a bunch of parents playing Keep up With the Jones’s, when they should be playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey. And sadly, I find myself one of them. Even though I have no business trying to keep up with anyone…if I don’t plan one of these extra special parties, I will feel as though I am somehow depriving my daughter of happy childhood memories.
Except that the only parties I remember from my childhood were all vaguely the same, and very low budget. The birthday girl’s mom invited all the other girls from the class. (This was rural Saskatchewan, so there were nine girls in total. Until Grade 5 or so, we all went to each other’s birthday parties. No exceptions.) There was TV-watching, present-opening, yard-running, barn-playing, cake-eating, and then sleeping bag-unravelling. We stayed over, and then our parents picked us up in the morning. The only costs incurred were the ingredients to a home-made cake, and a few bucks in ground beef for the inevitable burgers.
I am not nostalgic for a time when I would’ve been expected to bake a cake. (To quote my Auntie Marj: “I may not have made that cake, but I made the money that made that cake.”)
However, I am nostalgic for a time when all a parent had to pay for a birthday party was a headache – the direct result of a sleepless night of giggles combined with the fumes from an industrial-strength cleaner to get the barf stains out of the shag rug.
Ah, the good old days.
UPDATE: I found this photo from one of my birthday parties. Those are my sisters, Erin and Shannon, and my cousins, Curtis and Ross. Are we not the cutest kids you’ve ever laid eyes on? Besides that, notice the low-budget homemade cake. The ballerina in the middle probably cost about $1. That’s the most my parents likely spent on the entire party for me. (Also, which shirt do you think is more rad? The Thriller shirt that Curtis is wearing, or the more local Otter Lake shirt that I’m wearing?)