If you have preschool aged and/or early elementary aged children, you might be in the throes of weekends filled with birthday parties. Many times the whole class is invited and your children enjoy everything from arts and crafts to rock climbing. If you have more than one child yourself, you are bound to be double-booked once in while! And the presents! Trying to remember what you bought the birthday child in years past in order not to repeat a purchase. Then, of course, there’s the one day a year when it’s finally time to throw a party for your own kid.
In some ways, it felt like these years would last forever. In reality, it does not. We just hosted our last “kid” birthday party! My baby is 10!
I have two children. My son is 13 and my baby girl recently turned 10. When your daughter’s birthday is on Christmas you must vow not to forget about the birthday – or to lump it in with the “holidays.” Especially when you are Jewish and really have very little excuse. But that’s exactly what happened in 2016 when my daughter turned 9.
My daughter’s birthday most definitely got lumped in with the holidays. Of course children survive without a birthday party – but please don’t blame me for feeling guilty. More likely than not, she would have had a party if her birthday did not fall on the biggest holiday of the year.
So as 2017 rolled around, as did the realization that she was going to be 10. The “Big 1-0!” Pretty big milestone when it comes to birthdays! On top of that, my son’s Bar Mitzvah was planned for a few weeks before my daughter’s big day. And, oh yeah, the aforementioned forgotten (or some might say “blown off”) birthday last year. My husband and I believed the girl was owed and deserved a celebration this year, as it would be her last “kid party.” Which also meant that we were about to host our last “kid party.”
To E-vite We Go!
We set a date for the end of January….and now to the guest list. There are many sweet girls that are in my daughter’s grade for sure, but as the saying goes, this ain’t my first rodeo. With having a 13 year old and a 10 year old, I’ve seen things. You tend to know who had parties in the past year – and which ones your child wasn’t invited to. But chill, Melissa – this isn’t for you. This is for your daughter. Plus she didn’t care that much about past invites and since this was the last of her biggie parties, we allowed her to dictate the guest list for the most part. (PS – Don’t forget to hide the guest list).
“Mom! Mom! Did anyone RSVP?” started about 10 minutes after the invite went out. These days everything is a bit stalkerish, as you can see who viewed the invite and when they viewed the invite – down to the minute – and you do start to wonder why people are taking so long to RSVP. Everyone she very much wanted to celebrate with did RSVP positively. I sort of predicted a couple of the declines, but it pleased my daughter to include them in the first place. Anyway, we had a beautiful group of girls coming and my girl was thrilled.
The Events of the Day
My daughter really wanted to have her party in the house, as there were certain things she was interested in having for her celebration. Knowing that “this was it,” my husband and I agreed that we would host the party in our home. My husband, my daughter and I planned:
Make Your Own Pizza: As any parent who throws a party knows, the food is part of the celebration most young kids don’t even care about. But as parents – you MUST feed them! We also made a huge pot of spaghetti.
Slime Shop: Yes, call me insane…but that’s the craze now, right? We protected our floor with a camping tarp and each girl was given their own plastic bowl. As far as ingredients, we bought it ALL (minus the borax) and we let the girls go to town.
A couple of lessons learned – eliminate the dark food coloring if you are doing this in a group setting, as it’s way too tough to clean off skin! Or splurge on the latex gloves, which we completely forgot to do. We also discovered, when my husband searched online, how to clean food coloring off of the skin – lotion, salt and vinegar. Came “this” close to using Comet, but I didn’t feel comfortable using this on someone else’s child!
Photo Booth: My handy-dandy electronics computer lovin’ husband hung up a huge green sheet for a green screen, downloaded some app, chose some backgrounds with my daughter and voila! – photo booth. The girls took pictures on the beach or with unicorns or on the moon. He may or not be available for hire. In reality, this is probably all we needed. The girls had a blast!
All topped off with an Emoji ice cream cake with crunchies and Pin the Horn on the Unicorn. It doesn’t need to be glamorous – just a bunch of friends and a couple of activities. Granted we went the messy route, but the best is seeing your kid happy!
The Symbolism of the “Big 1-0”
Throughout this party I watched my daughter interact with her friends. What a big beautiful girl she’s becoming! It’s hard to believe she’s 10. The little kid birthday party era is over for us. No more party bags with crappy tchotchkes and gooey candy. The favors this time around were the photo booth pictures and a picture holder (and their slime!) When did that happen?
I thought back to all these years of birthday parties. Even with all the planning and weekends booked up with these 90 to 120 minute birthday parties, the “kid parties” may be the easiest of the celebrations. They could be simple (for the most part) and inclusive, with lots of laughs and smiles.
As our children age, the celebrations get smaller and the invite list gets narrowed down. The birthday party will consist of grabbing a few friends for a sleepover and/or a movie. In many respects it becomes more meaningful, but there will also be uncertainty about who to celebrate with. Peer pressure about who is cool to invite. Or the disappointment when it’s evident that you aren’t invited to a celebration you thought you would be.
And sooner or later they’ll want friends only. We’ll have a family dinner – but the “real” celebration will be friends only! NOOO! It seems like it changes overnight, but it does offer such a learning opportunity – both for the child and the parent.
On the flip side, thankfully life gives way to further major milestones and life celebrations – a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Confirmations, Driver’s License, Graduations, Marriage, etc. I’m looking forward, but I’ll miss that simplicity of the “kid party” and the innocence of the excitement and giddiness.
My favorite story from the day came hours after the actual party was over. A mom text me asking what our secret ingredients for the world’s best spaghetti and tomato sauce were because her daughter hasn’t stopped talking about it. I responded with a picture of “our secret” – Traditional Ragu! No additional spices, no fancy sauce – and definitely NOT homemade!