This year my youngest child turned 6. I decided to invite his whole kindergarten class to walk home with me after school for a fun backyard birthday.
On the menu was 140 chicken nuggets (all devoured), a veggie platter (barely touched), plain pasta, pineapple, lemonade, and enormous Costco cupcakes. We put together our homemade waterslide invented 3 years ago when we endured a week of 105 degree temperatures. Almost no one in Northern California has air conditioning! Our play structure slide with two twin blow-up mattresses stuck end to end under it, and a hose at the top creates the perfect redneck waterslide.
We also rented a jumpy house that said Happy Easter, because Andy loved the bunnies on it. After helping to change 20 children into their swimsuits (no easy task), the party began. A few moms graciously offered to hang out, chat and watch kids. I should have paid them! As kids grew tired they played Legos and drew pictures. My son had a terrific time hanging out with his friends.
Some of the improvements I'm considering for next year includes handing out tubes of frosting to consume instead of cupcakes. I probably threw out 17 cupcakes even though each child acted like it was life or death whether they got chocolate or vanilla. Almost every kid scraped the frosting off with their hands and ate it, or licked it off. Why not just comply with their instincts...Easy...NO Cake!
An hour into the party a couple of kids asked if there was anything else to do? I resisted the urge to tell them, "Are you kidding? When I was a kid we had family birthday parties. You had a family dinner, ate cake, maybe played a round of pin the tail on the donkey, and opened 1-2 gifts." I didn't know any other kind of party existed. I thought it was perfect.
It is different now. More fun in some ways I admit. One of the first "kid parties" I took Hannah to included snow trucked in and dumped in the front yard for kids to sled on. Many parties now have special guests like Darth Vadar or Snow White, pony rides, face painters, or animal farms brought to your home. If you can dream it...it most likely exists. As for goodie bags...they are a popular invention of this decade. The kids love them, and now expect them. My theory is this...only buy them if you love them too. Some parents do! I don't! I handed out blow pops as the kids left and they seemed perfectly happy.
Isn't it entertaining to consider how times have changed? What I really want my child to know is that celebrating this special day marks a moment in my life when a new capacity for love was permanently engraved on my heart. A love so precious, tender, and undeniable that it forever changed who I am. Everyone deserves to be celebrated at least one day a year!