Last week I read this article about why parents of the 70s and 80s did a better job than we are currently doing with our own children. The basic point was that parenting was a bit simpler and they did not seem so afraid that we would die/disappear/stop loving them if they made us mad.
Although I didn’t necessarily agree with the whole article (I know a lot of people my age whose parents did a crappy job), I thought the section about birthdays was pretty true. The author complained that birthday parties today are too elaborate, what with ponies and bounce houses and the like. We have certainly gone to some pretty elaborate birthdays over the years, but this weekend we hosted a really basic party for Griffin.
Now I will fully admit that this is less of a parenting philosophy statement and more of a “I’m a really bad housewife” kind of a statement. I have been shamed by a multitude of parties my kids have been invited to. There was the one with the pony and petting zoo. And the one where a “train” came to drive all the children around the neighborhood. There’s actually a TLC show about crazy kid parties (they have a show about everything).
Even the more tame ones tend to make me painfully aware of my ineptitude as a domestic success. Charlotte went to one party where the theme was Mary Poppins and the mom had made “spoonfuls of sugar” (molded chocolate in spoons) and gave ceramic piggy banks as party gifts (to hold your tuppence).
Griffin asked that his party be Mickey Mouse Fireman with a Toy Story balloon. So he got Mickey Mouse streamers and fire hats. And a Buzz Lightyear balloon. That cake up there at the top of the post? (Thanks for the pic, Cheryl). Yeah, I totally bought that at Publix and stuck some fire truck candles on it. I did make chocolate cupcakes, but I used a mix. And store-bought icing.
There were no goody bags. I just didn’t get around to it. I also only invited kids whose parents I like. Griffin is still young enough for me to get away with that.
The result? I had a great time. Jay and I only know how to throw one party–it involves Jay grilling hamburgers and a lot of fruit. But it was fun. We turned the sprinkler on in the back yard and threw plastic cups out there for the dozen or so kids to play with. And I mean the actual sprinkler we use to water the lawn–not any sort of $70 water ball from PBKids. And I mean red solo cups like you stood around the keg holding at parties in college.
Kids ate, they played, there was cake. Griffin said that he had a great time and that his party was “too exciding!'” Obviously I will not be featured in Southern Living any time soon. Martha Stewart will not be offering recipes that begin with “always buy the cheapest cake mix you can find.”
I still think it was a good time. And so did my kids.