Friday, July 11, 2008

I Barely Have the Patience for My Own

Warning: This post may or may not be ALL OVER THE PLACE.

Next Wednesday is Girl-Child's fifth birthday. I think we can all agree that Wednesday is a shitty day to host a party so we did the should we do it the weekend before or after? hokey pokey. Well, I did. Mr. Farklepants pretty much just goes with the flow when it comes to my controlling supreme social scheduling PIZAZZ! Anyoldhow, we're doing it this Sunday. If there's one thing I've learned in my eleven years of planning birthday parties for my children; the key goal is this: it's all about my convenience. Because as long as there are some of their friends around and something to do, it's a hit. In those early days I was a little overzealous in what I was trying to achieve [why, perfection of course] and had to be talked down from the rooftop but not until after I'd handed over the sniper rifle. Not really but if you were in my imagination it was totally real.

Some facts: 1) Girl-Child's birthday is in July, the hottest month of the year in Southern California just behind August. 2) Too hot for outdoor activities like a bounce house which will entertain for five minutes before all invited preschoolers are indoors searching for air conditioning. In my house. 3) I'm not really a fan of other people's children unless it's in small doses. 4) I'm cheap. 5) I am not a believer of grand to-dos for children's parties. 6) I live in an area where I'm in the minority on #5.

There are a plethora of establishments within a stones throw from our house that are willing to host the biggest baddest ass party ever for your child for the small sum of college tuition. Give or take a buck or two. Well, the only time my children will ever set foot in one of those places is if they are invited to someone else's birthday party. True story from last year:

Boy-Child#1: I want to have my party at Scooter's Jungle.
Me: Really? Or would you rather have an xBox 360 and a trip to Magic Mountain and maybe several bars of gold? Because that's about how much it will cost so that you and your friends can enjoy indoor inflatable slides, bouncies, and a zip line for two hours. Food is not included.
Boy-Child#1: Nevermind.

See? I'm not unreasonable. We did go to Magic Mountain [which cost less than the $150 NON-REFUNDABLE deposit at Scooter's Jungle], he took a friend, and got an xBox 360 AND we STILL spent less.

Last year we hosted Girl-Child's fourth birthday at Chuck E. Cheese's and this year is a repeat. I know many parents are anti-CEC but that rat knows how to entertain a kid. They can be loud. They are given their own tokens to play games. They may run amok. They get pizza. They get cake. They get a goodie bag. They go home. No mess for me. It's $12.99 a head for the kids ONLY. Parents can order a couple of pizzas for any other adults that wish to hang around. And beer. Right. On. And the trick for keeping it at a reasonable price for your wallet? ONLY INVITE YOUR CHILD'S FRIENDS. That is my motto. I do not need to invite Girl-Child's ENTIRE preschool class just because that's what everyone else does. Do you know how many birthday parties my kids have gone too where they asked on the ride over, "so, whose party is it again"?

So, at $12.99 a head, you'll excuse me if I'm a little put off by the phone calls I received in the last two days asking if it would be alright if the siblings of a couple of the invited guests come along. Again, I'm not unreasonable. I understand if you're not comfortable leaving your four or five year old in the company of what amounts to strangers in a public place. I totally get that. What I don't understand is the "if it's not okay then I can arrange a play date or leave the kids at home with their dad". Then do that then. I think it's excellent for children to learn at an early age that they aren't always going to get to do what they want to do. Learn that sometimes you're not invited. Or that this time it's a party for your big/little brother/sister to attend and that's just too bad. It's called life.

Of course I'm going to say YES. Because I have manners. And because my grandmother would come back from the grave and slap me across the face if I replied otherwise. And as it turns out there are two invited children that are unable to attend so I have extra spots. It's just the principle of the thing. The sense of entitlement is astounding.

Overreact, who?

Rant over.

53 comments:

Kalynne Pudner said...

Oh, please, PLEASE invite my 5-yo daughter to your daughter's party! I want so badly to ask if you mind whether her eight siblings come along.

Treasia said...

There is nothing at all wrong with having a child's bday party somewhere other than your own home. Heck who wants all the noise and mess to clean up after.

My step son was invited to a party a few weeks ago. He has an older sister who has always been invited before, but this time her name was not on the invitation. She had to learn that this time was only for little brother. She handled it well. You're right there does come a time to learn it's not always about them either.

Karen said...

I am too well mannered to even ask if siblings can tag along. It isn't like the parents want to pay extra and have that many more kids to watch. I find it all kinds of crass. Kudos to you for allowing them anyway.

hulagirlatheart said...

Have the kids play pin the tail on the donkey and use that mom as the a**. That should make you feel better.

ccr in MA said...

I don't think you're overreacting at all. You're right on that the parents are assuming too much, and the kids need to learn exactly what you said. I think you're handling the whole crazy-expectations birthday party thing really well!

Kerry said...

I have had the dreaded Chuck E Cheese parties too - once for my daughter and once for my son. I hated it - they loved it. It was easy and again they loved it!

I am always shocked at the nerve of some people who ask if the siblings can join the party. It is so rude. I just would never ever do such a thing so it's hard to understand how other parents think it's OK!

OHmommy said...

I just sent out Jay's invite last week and have been flooded my phone calls.

Why is it so hard to read the envelope? There must be a new system.

I too tried to pay off my son, not to have a party. Didn't work.

Jennifer said...

omg, I am so not looking forward to these party things. I'm with you- cheap, quick, no clean up!!

Nap Warden said...

We are having TWO parties for Miss Peach since Husband's parent will be out of town for the actual party. People like to make things complicated for Mom:P

Melanie said...

The parents around here have been drinking the super-expensive birthday party Kool-Aid. In a nearby ritzy suburb of Boise, there is a new place that STARTS at $39.99 a head. Oy.

How long do you think I can get away with homemade cake in the backyard with the grandparents? One more year? Sixteen years?

(P.S.: Ellie is invited to the party, right? And, since I'm watching her ten cousins this weekend, it's OK if they come, right? If not, I can leave them in a hot car or whatever...)

Eve Grey said...

Urgh, that would totally piss me off. In fact, I would consider saying no. Maybe making something up. I derno. That is just rude. Sometimes one twin is invited to something and the other isn't and I don't call and ask the mom if the other can come. They are in different classes and have different friends. Deal with it kids.

seachange said...

I am the survivor of 4 CC parties. (Do I get an award?) 2, I hosted for DD and 2, I attended w/ her.

I never once had a Mom ask if the sibling could come too. I wonder if that's a California thing? :-)

ENJOY # 5!!!!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

My Rachel is going to be 6. She will have her first "real" b'day party this year. Her next one will be in 4-6 years. That's how much I hate kids' parties (plus, I have to stagger her party years with the other kids' party years - I don't do more than one a year).

Fannie Mae said...

Holly hell, that takes a lot of nerve. Extra spots or not, I'd be ticked off.

Adrienne said...

A million years ago when Chuckie was just a mouse and not yet a rat, I had my 18th bday party there. And it is there that I announced I was pregnant.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Break the cycle of birthday party dysfunction, Girlfriend! We do it, too. And I think people are thankful that SOMEONE is willing to drag out a posterboard donkey and some construction paper tails, bake a sloppy cake and just invite a few kids. We're brave. We're retro. We're NOT handing out gift bags.

To the crazy mother? Send her my way. I'll handle her.

Susan said...

OH, I am SO WITH YOU. I have two kids and never once have asked if the other can tag along to a birthday party! Like you said, they need to learn they aren't always invited to everything. It's called DISAPPOINTMENT, people. A normal part of life. Look into it.

I also agree that you shouldn't have to spend a fortune on parties. My daughter's bday is in August, and we live in the high desert (where it was 119 yesterday!), so I hear your party dilemmas. We usually end up taking her somewhere out of town for a weekend, like Disneyland or Sea World, etc. It's more fun to pack up the whole family for a weekend and spend our money THAT way than trying to entertain 20 kids in the sickening heat. Plus, we're isolated and don't even have a freaking Chuck E. Cheese within 90 miles. (Why do I live here again?)

Anyway, I am with you 100%.

Perksofbeingme said...

I would say that if you say ok they can come, then you should ask the parent to pay for the sibling. After all the sibling was not originally invited. Just my opinion. I would be ok with paying for the sibling if it was my child. Just my two cents.

Quart said...

Chuck E Cheese has beer??? Woo hoo!

ALF said...

That is just crazy and rude. Your grandmother should come back and slap those people across the face for being so rude. I hate people.

g said...

As a kid, the last thing I would have WANTED was for my siblings (i.e. brothers) to come with me to a birthday party!

Did the other mom not get the fact that you were paying per kid?

Although - my very own Brother One is guilty of this kind of thing, or worse. Brother Two's son was getting married, and Brother One insisted that not only he, his wife, and his 2 kids go to the wedding, but that also their family friend who lived with them(that the bride and groom didn't even KNOW) be allowed to attend! And she went to the rehearsal dinner, the service, the reception, the wedding dinner, AND the brunch!

Amy said...

I agree that kids need to learn that they can't always do what their siblings are doing. We've had to teach that lesson here at our house a couple times.

And I wouldn't imagine asking to bring the siblings along. I get a lot of invites that say siblings are invited and I still leave the others at home - it's not their friend!!

Bunny Bunster said...

I started boycotting parties at the age of 10 and I havent been happier!!

carmen said...

The nerve of some people is unbelieveable! Frankly, it would have never crossed my mind to ask such a thing.

I pretty much hate kid's birthday parties -- mine or otherwise. I'm more of the school of "you get to choose the fabulous activity we get to do together as a family." Sometimes it works, other times....

Caution said...

Honestly, and without intended bias, I've gotten those calls, too. I always stammer an, "Okay," but wonder what they were really asking since I couldn't understand their English too well.

calicobebop said...

I'm glad that CEC has Tootsie's endorsement. I wonder if they even realize how much more popular they are going to be now... Anyway, that will be my daughter's next birthday outing as well. Thanks for the tip!

Madge said...

OH! the parties. I hate the parties. we've done CEC a few times. Now we have this quieter pizza place with a little game room they like just as well and it's a little cheaper and quieter. our CEC don't have beer..... what is up with that? I'm moving to CA.

Minnesota Matron said...

Honey, I am with you on all these things! I think I would've liked your grandmother, because our rules for entertaining, in general are easy:


1. WH=hen you are the host, the guest always gets first priority, even if it means bending over backwards.

2. When you are the guest, the host always gets first priority, even if it means bending over backwards.

San Diego Momma said...

We had my daughter's b-day at JW Tumbles, which is quite the crapload of money, and I kept mentally tallying up how the heck much more it was all gonna cost when I got those "sibling" calls.

Next party is in the alley behind our cardboard house.

AGSoccerMom said...

if it's not okay then I can arrange a play date or leave the kids at home with their dad".

This took balls to ask this? I would never do that. We have had to parent separately on many occasions....

laughingatchaos said...

J will be four on Sunday and his party is tonight. It's a family party, so it's a couple of his friends plus their siblings and parents. That way the kids all play and the adults drink wine. And while that all sounds great right now, I'm wondering why in hell I didn't just schedule this at Rizzo Riccota's and be done with it! ;)

Jill said...

The last party my daughter was invited to, the envelope specifically stated no siblings. I wasn't offended at all (though a tad surprised at how brave she was for stating the obvious).

It was fantastic for me - especially because I left the 3 year old to torment her father for 2 hours.

Greta/Does This Blog Make Us Look Fat? said...

Um...my five year old has been forbidden from turning six. Problem solved. Ittle wittle baby forever.

fairytalesandmargaritas said...

I have so been there, on both sides. When they are too little to stay by themselves, I usually stay with the sibs, but get a separate table and buy our own food/drink (just like another patron, not even part of the party). I cannot believe people have the nerve to invite themselves. When I'm asked I just make some lame excuse like, "We're only allowed 12 people, I'm so sorry we can't have more, but if you'd like to stay and get your own table, you're more than welcome."

Another great place for a party is the zoo or children's museum, usually not very expensive and the kids just love it. Plus the families can spend the rest of the day at the venue if they choose.

Jennifer H said...

I share your ideas about kids parties. They've gotten way out of hand. How is this generation of kids going to deal when they're in their teens or adults and no one throws them a party that costs thousands of dollars? The shock!

I've told my kids we'll have a big party again when they each turn 10. Honestly, they haven't complained that much since we made it clear in advance that we weren't going to do one every year. Instead, we usually invite a friend or two to join us for an activity like an IMAX movie or whatever the birthday child wants to do.

And the nerve of a parent to invite their other children! And then to make it sound like you would be inconveniencing them if you say no? Emily Post is spinning in her grave, godresthersoul.

MamaMo said...

I am SO with you on this, especially #5; "green girl" we don't do gift bags either (there's already too much useless plastic crap in the landfill). What amazes me sometimes are the little guests' puzzlements over the lack of gift bags.

jenontheedge said...

You're much nicer than I am about the uninvited guests. If someone asks, I flat out tell them no and I don't make excuses about it.

My kids' birthdays are coming up in less than two months and I'm already anxious because the older one wants a sleepover with about 10 friends. Nuh uh, no way.

Your Pal Pinki said...

When my kids were little, we tried inviting aquaintances from soccer, baseball, play groups, and I couldn't believe the parents wouldn't stay for the party and just dump their 5 year olds off. We celebrate with our closest friends these days.

I used to think my kids would feel more loved if there were lots of people at their party, but they would rather have their best friends around.

Cheaper in Baht said...

This year we rented the gym of a small school, and held an old fashioned party complete with a homemade pinata.

Everyone loved it, my house was untouched and it was only $50.

The beauty schools around here also offer birthday make-overs for young groups. Which is another affordable option away from home.

All Adither said...

This is why we have miniscule little "parties" involving cake, lemonade, homemade playdoh and nothing else.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm on the same page with you about everything. Except that I would say, "Sorry, we already gave them the head count."

I really don't like being made to feel rude if I don't give in to someone else's rudeness.

Manager Mom said...

I have been marinating on a kid birthday party post for a while and you have INSPIRED me to finish it. There is just such an escalation of these things from when I was a kid. It's driving me nuts.

myra said...

So timely as I prepare for my son's 6 birthday. I can't imagine asking to bring siblings knowing it would cost the host. So not cool. Birthdays are out of hand. I am so with everyone about teaching the concept of "you can't always get what you want". I like to play the Stones for my son whenever possible. Full of life lessons they are.

JCK said...

I am with you on #5. Chuck E. Cheese...not so much. I will never set foot in one again. Recent, traumatic one time only experience may have prejudiced me forever.

I hope that your girl has a fabulous birthday full of fun. The kids LOVE the place and that ISwhat counts, if the mom can take it. ;)

Kristi said...

Amen to the 10th power.

Jason said...

I am so with you on all of this. Except even the $12.99 per kid seems like a lot to me. When I first moved to CA I was blown away at the scale of b-day parties around here!

Where I came from, your parents dropped you off at the child's house, you played some little games, popped some balloons, ate a piece of cake, and BOOM! It was over two hours later and your parents picked you up.

No, wait. That was my wedding reception.

stephanie (bad mom) said...

Yes to everything you said, except CEC but only because I'm selfish (hate it, don't want to be there). We need a few good selfless moms like you because I've told my kids the only way they get to set foot in there again is if someone invites them to a party.

And we limit the guest number to a manageable, enjoyable 7-8 friends. I have actually had parents from my kids' classes call to see if their invitation had been lost (because doesn't everyone invite the whole class??). True story. Classy.

LaskiGal said...

Right now I am just so glad J is turning ONLY 1. He has no friends. And right now, I'm OK with that.

And this "The sense of entitlement is astounding." What in the world is happening? Were we like that when we were kids?

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

OHMYLORD you read my mind, you wrote my thoughts and you took all the credit.

My kids have been all about lately, "I'm gonna have my next birthday at such-n-such." And I'm all about, "umm, no you're not, we had a chuck e cheese/bowling/bounce house party for you when you turned (insert age) and this year you may have a GIFT from us and some cake and a hot dog with your cousins and grandma here and I will still have enough money left over for groceries for the month. Believe me, you will get to go to 1-2-3-you-and-me tumbling for preschoolers set in a jungle with a crabby teen instructor who has no patience for kids about FOUR times this year for someone else's party" Poor kids.
Yeah, I can't tell you how many parties my stinking 6 year old kindergartener got invited to this past year. And I spent like $15/pop on about 2 parties a month since stinking October. It is ridiculous. If my other child (5) gets invited because it is a neighborhood friend, then I spend more because I am all about "well, that is two invited, but only one gift and that doesn't feel right to me" So, if a sibling can come, next time say, "yeah, but I expect an extra Jackson in the card inside the gift bag next to the My Little Pony." Fair's fair, you know.

Can I post this as a blog entry again? I tend to do get wordy on my comments on some of your posts.
KEEP BELIEVING

Anglophile Football Fanatic said...

Love. LOVE. LoVe. CEC and the easy as peasy parties they provide. The siblings thing? Would so piss me off. They are NOT invited. I understand your rant.

Daalelli said...

I guess I'm just one of those cool moms because I always let my kid do what she wants for her birthday... of course I also happen to know that all I'm gonna have to do is throw a back yard bbq, and invite our friends and family over. She doesn't really care if there are a lot of kids it's the family thing for her! So yay on me for having such an easy kid! Hamburgers, cake and ice cream and she is set! I'm good and it costs like nothing! Plus then we have the added bonus of having the whole party with our adult friends at the same time. Boy my kid is great she shares her party so we can have fun too! (of course it's byob)

Marmarbug said...

Okay first - HOLY CRAP! I looked at the scooter place and that is just RIDICULOUS! I would crap if I had to pay that much for a party without food!
Second, I hate that too. The whole "Is it okay if I bring Johnny's little sister?" Um no!!!!
But then it is okay if say her hubby is on deployment and she is new to the area. THAT I get. But usually it is just chalked up to the fact that the parent is afraid to say no to the kid not invited. Wimps.

Colleen said...

someone once told me that I had big parties for Gavin. Not sure how since they were hosted in my house, I sometimes, though not always, provided an inexpensive lunch (or veggie tray and chips in leui of lunch), cake and ice cream. And I'd blow up kiddie pool(s), weather permitting. I used to do goodie bags, but dear Lord that got annoying to manage. And why should I buy a crappy gift for someone else's kid when it's my kid's birthday? And I don't do games (well, maybe drinking games for the adults, but, you know). Only close friends and family are invited. Gavin just turned 4 and I have yet to invite kids from daycare to a party...and we've never gone to one of theirs (mostly because of schedule conflicts, but also because a lot aren't his friends at school...just classmates).

Obviously that person who said that to me never saw "Sweet 16" or saw all those places like Build-A-Bear ($20/head!). Good for you for keeping your kids' birthday's celebrations to something that will actually mean something to them some day. (can I say "some" or "something" again?)