The Modern Birthday

In the past, birthdays were simple. Maybe your parents let you invite a friend for dinner or maybe you had a simple party with pin the tail on the donkey and cone-shaped paper hats. If you were really lucky, you might have had a clown or a magician. Then somewhere along the line, things changed. Birthdays became something more.

Instead of a friend or cousin or two with a sheet cake made by your mom, you invited your whole class and your scout troop. The clown and pointy hats were replaced by bounce houses and pony rides. The cake? A lot of them put wedding cakes to shame. Then the theme birthday party was born. I blame parenting magazines for that. Then we got Pinterest. Now, birthdays have become a thing of extravagance.

Birthday parties stress me out like driving and moving across country – at the same time (Yes, I’m aware you have to drive while moving across country. It’s my nightmare.). I get that there is a choice and that I could fight the power, as it were, but there’s so much pressure from within and without and I admit, I’m not strong enough to fight it, not to mention that it’s hard to change things once the bar is set.

Friday is Rae’s birthday. She has been begging for a sleep over for going on eight months. Sleepovers are the worst. For starters, lots of people assume that if you’re having a sleepover it’s your idea and not your seven-year-old, because you’re some kind of creeper or something. Then, if you’re able to assuage those fears, you have to actually follow through with the whole thing and you know going in that –

1. You are not going to be sleeping and

2. You have to entertain a gaggle of children for about 14 hours without back up.

I spent all eight months trying to talk her into a pool party or a bowling party – or any party where other people’s kids don’t have to come into my house. It didn’t work.

So guess who’s hosting a slumber party? That’s right. I am. I’m dreading it already.


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