Birthday Party MadnessJane Roper
All right, people. Can we just agree, right here and now — all of us parents, everywhere around the world — that you don’t have to invite the whole class to the birthday party? Because once one or two of us do it, then the precedent is set, and we ALL have to do it, or risk being considered cruel, heartless, non-team player jerkwads bent on destroying the social order and crushing small children’s hearts.
And I, for one, am not a jerkwad. You’re lovely, your children are lovely. But our house is only so big and there are only so many affordable, rentable indoor venues for a child’s birthday party. Correction: there are none. So I’d really like to reserve the right to invite some but not all of my children’s playmates. And I really would like it to be less stressful than planning our wedding invitation list.
Moreover, at this particular juncture, my children spend as much time with kids who are not in their preschool — namely, the children of friends of ours — as they do with the kids in their class. And at this particular juncture, parents still stick around at birthday parties. So, if I have to choose between inviting kids whose parents I am friends with and kids whose parents I barely know (and I do have to choose, unless I want to throw a gala-sized birthday party) well, guess who wins?
Once my girls will have more actual “friends” as opposed to the big, whole-group love-in that is preschool and their arranged friendships with our friends’ children, I suppose we can put the burden on them. We can say: you get to invite five friends each. Choose. (The twin thing really does complicate matters, though, doesn’t it? Do we need to give them their own parties at some point? What if they want to invite some but not all of the same people?)
But, of course, there will always be that sixth person they just have to invite. And if they invite her, then they have to invite that other one, too, because the two live next door to each other. And then suddenly the only one who’s not invited is the girl the other kids are mean to — the one who smells kind of funny. And I’ll tell the girls they have to invite her, too — the same way my mother made me invite that girl to my birthday parties — and they’ll hate me for it. And actually, they need to invite so-and-so, too, because I’m on the PTA with her mother, and we talk all the time, and it would be so awkward if…
And then, to make matters worse, one of the girls they invite to their party won’t invite them to her birthday party three months later, thus violating the unspoken, irrefutable law that if someone invites you to their birthday party YOU MUST INVITE THEM TO YOURS! And even though I disapprove of this law, I will have no choice but to be indignant on my heartbroken daughters’ behalf, and shun the offending daughter’s mother at the swap meet.
And I don’t even know what a swap meet is!
OK, OK, fine. You and all your kids are all invited. Just don’t expect any ice cream with your cake. And bring your own chair.
ADDENDUM/FULL DISCLOSURE: In the end, we decided to have a party at an indoor playspace, for family/close friends only, and not invite anyone from the girls’ school, though there are a few kids we would have liked to. But it took us way more stress than was necessary to come to that decision. We will, of course, be bringing cupcakes in to the girls’ class after vacation.