Recently went for a birthday party of a five year old girl, Hawaiian theme. Mini wedding, really, that’s what it was and it irritated me. Actually, it did more than that, it made me sick. No, not the scale of things, or the fact that it was a theme party (I gave in to my four year old and had a princess theme earlier this year, so no, that was not an issue; lots of other things were), but the fact that the mother felt the need to have this tawdry, lavish affair that looked good but lacked substance. For one, there was a lucky draw where all the kids were given numbers and then some of those got prizes. Can you imagine a bunch of four year old’s waving their numbers to get a gift and then the disappointment after that? As I was walking towards the bouncy, I heard one mother console a little girl about not getting a gift. I know that we must be able to train our kids to handle disappointments and tell them that it’s ok if they don’t win and all that good stuff, I do tell my daughter that, but, still I don’t think it’s a really good idea to have a lucky draw at a birthday party, which, for me, is more about the kids having a good time and going home happy.
But more than anything else, what I absolutely despised, was the pinata, or, what we in India call the “khoi bag” – absolutely despicable stuff, I hate it, hate it, hate it. At least the way it’s done at birthday parties here in India. In theory it may have been a good idea – have a bag full of goodies, burst it and have the kids collect them all, happy happy. Except, not really. It’s just one of those things that do not translate well in reality. At all. Basically the way it’s done here is that the bag is filled with goodies, elevated and then burst, leading to absolute chaos and mayhem as kids scramble, push, trample over each other to collect the booty. It brings out the worst in human behaviour, and with this all-is-fair-in-looting-khoi-bag kind of culture there is such jostling that my daughter gets extremely disturbed, and yet wants to reap the goodies. As a result, she begs me to help, as do many other kids and there is much gnashing of teeth and maids, mothers, kids (ranging from ages four to fifteen), compete for Ben Ten pencils, Hannah Montana stickers, candies, assorted Disney nic-nacks, bubble bottles etc etc. And the funny thing is that once we get the stuff, my daughter, much like the rest of the kids, does not truly care about it and it all gets lost in the brimming-with-toys Ikea baskets in her play room. Yet, at that moment, she wants it and wants to reap as much as possible. Like I said, it brings out the distasteful side of human behaviour and can be well avoided.
Then, there was the Shakiraesque Hawaiin dress that this five year old was wearing, or rather not wearing. Come on mother, take a look at your kid when you dress her. There is a fine line between cute and cheap, very fine at times, but you have to watch it. You make a five year old wear a bra like pink satin halter top and a skirt under the navel for a birthday? Jesus, is that your idea of cute? Then when she’ll be sixteen and want to wear the same stuff, you’d have a problem with it.
It was a boring party where a lot of money had been spent (upwards of $1500) , a LOT of money in India, and the result was that kids didn’t have much to do, with no games to engage them. I miss the good old days when birthday parties meant treasure hunts and home made sandwiches. I didn’t do that for my four year old but did do it for my twins this year, as they turned one. And I can tell you, (at the risk of blowing my own trumpet) it was a great party, the kids had a blast and the mommies (daddies are exempt from these affairs!) sat around chatting and picking on finger food..yes, that is what birthday parties are meant to be like and if my older daughter didn’t want to invite half the world and more for her birthday, I’d do hers at home too..
I know I am in the minority here, because most parties I attend are lavish, over-the-top affairs. It’s amazing how much money a certain segment of people have in India and how they are willing to spend it. Another birthday bash (four year old again) I went for was eerily similar to the Hawaiin theme one, where the birthday girl (all of four) was dressed top-to-toe, much like her mother, aunt and assorted clone-like female relatives, in designer stuff. When her grandmother commented on her dress she chirped “it’s Burberry” and ran off, while the granny went weak in the knees recounting the retort to anyone who was patient enough to listen, like she was some child prodigy who had recited a line from ‘The Merchant of Venice!’.
I could go on, but I think I’ll stop. I’ve vented enough and I feel better. I do. Plus, babies are asleep and I’d better turn in too..
Blogging helps and I should do it more often. Sooooo therapeutic!
3 responses to “Call me a cranky old crone..”
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I think the whole birthday party thing is getting taken to ridiculous extremes. Some here are reaching expenditures of $15k or more. But the real problem is the parents throwing them can’t afford it. They’re putting it on credit, getting in over their heads, then losing their homes in foreclosures. I just don’t get that.
Thanks Saraswati. It is ridiculous and I am not sure how this will stop. For starters, we, as parents, have to not give in to social (and kid) pressure and keep it simple. It’s a vicious circle, you go for parties that are big affairs, so you try and do the same and the kids accept that as the norm, since that is what they know..someone has to stop this madness.