CONFESSION: I’m a birthday party hater.
I can honestly never really remember having them (outside of family coming over) when I was growing up. I don’t fully get the depths of the birthday party industry for kids and have railed in the past against loot bags and half birthdays.
So I’m a hater, just know that. Last spring Stephanie Wilder Tayler boldly asked “Is Your Birthday Party Pissing People Off?” I’m here to tell you, flatly, “YES!” My biggest beef of late is how ‘the birthday party thing’ is starting to infiltrate the classroom.
You’ve seen the recent discussions on Babble tackling cakes, sweets, and allergies for school birthdays. Well, parents at my son’s school took the birthday madness one step higher on the ladder — they brought in a clown.
That’s right, a clown came into my son’s classroom, during school hours, to entertain the kids.
We’ve been to birthday parties with petting zoos, and magicians, usually with classmates, but always on a weekend. That’s fine — it’s the birthdays at school thing that is getting ridiculous.
We didn’t get a heads up that my son’s lesson time would feature a clown. e didn’t find out until he brought home a “Penelope The Clown” booklet and loot bag.
The day after the Penelope The Clown incident, my son brought home another loot bag. Presumably from a parent who thought birthdays at school “were a thing” now, so loot bags need to be brought to hand out to everyone.
C’mon people. Stop it. Just. Stop. Trying. To. Outdo. Each. Other.
The clown thing bugs me for a few reasons: we pay tuition for my son to attend a French Immersion preschool program. It’s not cheap, so I don’t anticipate birthday parties and clowns to be part of the curriculum. I also just don’t see where a parent got the bravado to think having a clown at the school, during class time is appropriate. I don’t know why the teacher green lit it.
But, really, it’s about us — the parents.
I don’t get why parents send cupcakes, treats, or whatever for birthdays at school already, bringing the clown takes it to an entirely different level of lunacy.
My son Charlie turned 4 over the Christmas holiday. Upon returning to school he was “Roi du Jour” (King for the day) and got to wear a crown the teachers made for him and he decorated. He was thrilled. He wore it at dinner for the next week and when my wife had her birthday two weeks later, she wore it. When I had my birthday two weeks after my wife, I precariously balanced it on my head.
Charlie didn’t care that he didn’t have a party. He didn’t care that a clown didn’t come. He didn’t care that we didn’t bake cupcakes for the class. He didn’t care that he didn’t hand out loot bags. He got a special crown, he felt special, and that was that.
It’s we as parents that continue to try and raise the bar, try to outdo one another, and change the rules of the game. Each party needs to be bigger, bolder, brighter, better, and next thing you know it you’ve got a kid complaining the colour of the car they got for their sweet 16 is wrong. It’s a long leap from clown to car, I know. But why are we putting so much pressure on each other? Since when is parenting a competition?
Image via EdenPictures on Flickr