There are a few realities that come with your kid being in pre-school that you just never used to have to deal with before you began shelling out $1,000 [or more] a month for your precious child to spend the day eating sand and getting sick with other kids.
And right at the top of my list of things that astounds me is birthday parties.
It’s no secret that the number of birthday parties you go to with your kids grows at a geometric rate as they become more sociable with other kids. With Birthday No. 1, you’ll hold one for your own kid, and maybe go to one more such party some friend or your sister-in-law’s daughter. This is because you have likely been a shut-in for that first year and not socializing too much since your kid has woken you up several times a night, every night, and, due to lack of sleep, you now have the personality of a mad snapping turtle.
But, send your kids to daycare and you’ll start to get an invitation now and then for Birthdays No. 2 and 3. Not enough to upset your weekend plans that much [Besides, now, you have no life. All you do on Saturday or Sunday now is go to Babies R Us or Target for diapers and other kid stuff, anyway] but you do notice that people you have never spoken to before are asking you to come into their homes.
My Wife: Maddo got invited to [Insert either “Harmony”, “SophiaRianOliviay” or one of the other names that would have been changed to “Doris” if the kid entered Ellis Island with it back in 1910.]
Me: Who? Do we have to buy something? Is this a front to try to sell us Amway?
It only goes up from there. Since Maddo started going to pre-school, she’s had the social calendar of, but fortunately, not the tastelessness of a Kardashian. And whenever an invite shows up in her pre-school information folder, or in our mailbox, the reaction is always the same:
My Wife: Well, Maddo got another birthday party invitation today.
Me: When is it? Where is it? And how much do we have to spend? Is this a front to try to sell us Amway?
Maddo is getting invited to so many parties that her weekends are starting to resemble my days in my college frat house, minus the typical 25 kegs of beer. Just this past Sunday, she went to two different soirees. One was a morning “brunch” centered around the theme of the Rapunzel story. I volunteered to go to this one, mostly because I’m more of a morning person and I hoped that by “brunch” there might be an omelet station in the living room.
“Rapunzel” showed up, told the story about herself, did some face painting of all the kids [12 girls, one boy—What a stud, I guess.] and then loaded up into her Corolla to either go home and finish sobering up from the night before or off to her next gig for a room of upper-middle class toddler princesses.
At the top of a display case were more than a dozen gift bags. Now, that’s another expense, the gift bag. Who came up with this idea? When did it begin that we started being so egalitarian in our culture that we felt it necessary to, in effect, BRIBE four-year-olds into coming to a party where all they have to do is play games, maybe get their faces painted, and have free license to eat all the cake, candy and other stuff that at home is rationed out like butter during World War II? One of the few other dads at this gig and I marveled at how birthday parties have changed since we were kids.
Other dad: I mean, LOOK AT THIS! Rapunzel? Gift bags?
Me: I know. When I was a kid, mom made a chocolate cake, we maybe played pin the tail on the donkey, and dad sneaked a drink or two off in the kitchen.
At that point, the mom of the birthday girl offered up mimosas. Bless her.
I took Maddo home and did a handoff with my wife. She took Maddo almost exactly back where we had been in the morning for an afternoon birthday party at a nature center. The kids got to pet a chinchilla, see a turtle and, I guess, learn something. I don’t know for sure because I took our younger daughter, Little Sis, to the zoo where we watched four really cool-looking tigers strut around their habitat area. Then we had ice cream.
This was just one day. On the counter at home was another invitation for a dual party this Saturday, which we just can’t make. It’s Father’s Day weekend and my Beloved Seattle Mariners are in town to face the A’s. There’s another party in mid-July that we are going to, but also another one earlier in the month that we can’t make because we will be somewhere in Southern Oregon, on our way back from a week visiting my mom.
I’m sure there will be another shindig or two coming up this summer. And then come early September it will be our turn. Little Sis is turning three, and my wife is already asking her what kind of party she wants. All I know for sure is that she’s uttered the word “Princess” a few times and chocolate cake will be involved. We’re already planning the guest list, so you parents and kids keep your calendar free.
And don’t forget your gift bags on the way out.