So, Spawn turns 11 on Sunday.
After ten years of extravapalooza parties for The Celebrated Date, I have finally come to my senses and declared: no more.
The Halloween party broke me, folks. I am a broken, broken woman.
Spawn took the news pretty well, actually. Maybe the past month of me being rather snappish about being unemployed made an impression. I just explained to the kid that money is tight and therefore I am not up to taking on the expense of a party right now. That, and I am just not up to the emotional turmoil that comes with my old nemesis, the RSVP. I am done. Finito.
I know when I’m whupped.
(Sidebar: my imminent unemployment has been pushed back about three months. That’s another story for another time.)
I declared “no more parties” after the Halloween debacle. I think Spawn finally understands that I meant that. As soon as the kid opened mouth about a birthday party, I shut that thought right down. Merry Christmas, kiddo. And surprisingly, I didn’t get a lot of pushback. Is that a little bit of maturity I see growing in? Or is it my in-no-uncertain-terms tone of voice, which I am capable of having now and again? Hard to say.
I’m not even ordering a bakery cake this year, folks. That’s how serious I am about this. I am actually going to bake my kid’s birthday cake MYSELF.
Last week, however, in a fit of pique I began to doubt myself. I started researching options — not for a party, oh god no — for a fun weekend trip for the kid. I mean, we get a long weekend due to MLK Day, and it seemed wasteful to not take advantage of it.
And you know what? Plan B is a helluva lot more expensive than a party.
Of course, Plan B scenarios included: a weekend in Chicago, a weekend at an indoor water park, a weekend in the mountains, and a weekend at a public aquarium. The hotel rates alone were indigestible.
So I scaled back my expectations a bit. Dinner and a movie, which is expensive in its own right. Invitation to one friend only. It’s all we can afford.
I’m trying to remember back to when I was a kid, what kind of birthday celebrations my parents did for me. I don’t remember too many parties. Mostly it was a friend and my grandparents (of which I was lucky enough to have both sets in the same town), along with my parents. I had one slumber party, in the sixth grade, during which we girls pushed all the furniture out of the way in the family room and did cartwheels and handstands and stuff at some point close to midnight. There is a picture in my parents’ albums of a party for me at age three, in which I and all of my mother’s friends’ children are dressed up in smocked dresses and patent leather shoes and wearing cone-shaped party hats. I do not remember this party. And I don’t remember having a party for my Sweet 16, probably because at that point I was too embarrassed to have one.
I guess you could say I am resurrecting a fine old family tradition by putting the kabosh on an extravagant party. After ten years of this nonsense of offsite parties and entertaining a group of kids for 2-3 hours and then sending everyone home all hopped up on sugar, goody bag in hand — I have decided that maybe the sane route is to focus more on what the day means for us as a family. Because, at the core, the fact that Spawn has a birthday is what makes us a family.