Tag Archives: birthday parties

Call me a cranky old crone..

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!

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My four year old wants a princess birthday. Sigh.

“Mama”, she said in her sweetest voice, “I want a princess birthday”.

My first reaction was to wear my most Et tu, Bruté expression and scream: “nnnooooooooooo not a princess birthday, no no no!!” But motherhood has taught me, or so I like to think, to be patient and not have extreme reactions, even if the situation so demands! So, I took a deep breath, then in as patient a manner as I could, I tried to talk her out of it, to little avail. She was adamant and appeared to have thought it all through. She told me quite plainly that it was her birthday and that she had the right to decide what it would be. Fair, I thought, but did not give my consent. I didn’t want her to know she was winning that argument, I still thought I would give it one last push – try the dirty tricks, you know, incentives et all. It was, however, all in vain. She stood her ground and I caved. So it’s going to be a princess birthday.

Now for the debate.

There are really only two ways of looking at this. One – as a parent you have to, mostly, support your child, or at least give an impression of doing so, so just “go with it”, no matter what your personal views about it are. You might hate the fact that she wants to dress like a princess, have all these pink cut outs all over the place and have a castle cake! But, that is your view and she’s a four year old girl, influenced, unfortunately, by all she sees around her – so lump it mom and give the kid what she wants. She’ll grow out of it anyway in a few years. She’ll be happy that you did this for her. That’s one view.

The other: Nip this in the bud, stop all this pink stuff and start telling her all about mind over matter and all that cerebral stuff. If you give in now, then will you give in to all her demands just so you can be supportive? Tell her nicely; reward her in other ways but this she can’t have. She’ll protest, but eventually she’ll forget about it and be happy with what you do for her. Because, what if this is just the beginning and she does not outgrow all this? What if she actually turns into a princess? Cute now when she’s four, not so cute when she’s fifteen and all she wants to do is dress up. Nip it nip it nip it!

Sigh. I can see both sides, and I did think about it long and hard. But in the end, I decided to let her have it. I did this because I believe that despite her interest in the “princess stuff”, she also likes other kiddy things like playing in the park, doing puzzles, art and craft et all. So, this is a phase and she’ll get over it, if I resist it, she’ll get drawn to it more, so let her get it out of her system – a purge, so to speak. My niece, now eleven, was the same at four. To my sister’s absolute horror she’d dress Barbie dolls all day. Now she’s done a complete 180 degree turn and hates the stuff, in fact she thinks it’s fashionable to hate it, so she does this squirming, puhleez, action when I remind her about her erstwhile obsession. So hopefully, my little one will be the same and then, of course, I’ll balance it by getting her interested in more productive activities; I’ll distract her subtly. Also, a part of me believes that there’s really no harm in dressing dolls, it’s a part of growing up, just like having a play kitchen and cooking imaginary meals, which, by the way, she loves to do too.  In any case I had sort of foreseen this eventuality when she was two and to this end, of creating a balance, had introduced her to Dora – the anti Barbie, someone who wears shorts, puts on sneakers and a backpack and goes exploring. It worked. She had  a Dora birthday last year and adores her – actually thinks that Dora is a real person.

There is, however, one thing that I will not have – a Disney princess birthday! No invitation cards with the four Disney princesses posing together! There are some things where I draw the line – this is one of them!

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Her Birthday Party

I’d planned and planned my daughter’s second birthday party, and my efforts did pay off, because it went off really well, but, I got the flu, and was too sick to even stand on the day of the party.

It hit me hard on the morning of the party – the headache, the nausea, the works – could just about manage to put something on and get into the car. I felt and looked terrible. I’d wanted to get my hair done or at least wash it nicely, but it was not to be. Instead, I looked like something out of Adam’s Family Values!

But, the party was great – wonderful sunny day, nice music, kids happy. And luckily my mother was there, thank God for her; she took charge and organized all the games etc while I sat and watched it all from a corner..

I’d done an animal farm theme with yellow and green balloons and lots of hay. The kids loved it, esp the treasure hunt, which was in the hay.

As for me, I planted myself next to the return gift’s table and sipped sweet lime like it was vintage wine, and waited for the party to get over. Then I went home and crashed out.

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I’ve driven myself crazy with her birthday party..

Maybe because I am new to this birthday stuff, having done it only once before since she’s now two, I am going a little over the top.

First there’s the thing about calling everyone who’s called you – and that’s a long list. Then there are others who you want to invite anyway, so you do. Before I knew it, I had a list of some hundred people – forty-five of them children of varying ages – from 0 to 15!

So there’s the cake, the decorations, the catering, the music, the return gifts (each individually packed for the kids since the ages are so varied I could not just get one thing for everyone)

Then there’s the dress for her to wear. It’s amazing how difficult it is to find something simple you like. If you go for the party dresses, you are confronted with dresses that remind you of layered puddings, and the regular ones are too simple.

Anyway, I was out the whole day yesterday and got most of the work done, also found something nice for her to wear – now she has to wear it, because of late she’s been picky!! It’s a toddler thing I hear..

I returned home in the evening with a throbbing headache and fever. Ugh.

Hopefully, I’ll be better by Sunday.

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Birthdays and the waste of it..someone stop it!

Sundays are not what they used to be – lazy days in pajamas with the kids; pouring over the papers over endless cups of tea; radio playing merry songs – no, not even close. Sundays are now hurried days when you get up, get dressed, dress the kid/s, and head off for a birthday party, wondering on the way weather the gift you decided to buy was appropriate enough, because some people give return gifts that are more expensive than the one you took them!

At one level, I want to say “lump it”, I’ll do what I can and not worry about how elaborate people want to make their kids’ parties. And I do do that. I usually don’t worry too much about it. But then you get to the party and you see the effort that’s been put in (not to mention the money) – electric trains, cars, big bouncies, catered food, tattoo artists..etc etc..and your daughter looks at you and says, “mama I want a big train at my birthday too”. Then you wonder why you came? Or, rather, you wish someone would stop this madness.

I want to go back to the days when a birthday meant some chocolate cake and playing treasure hunt at home.

Where are all the sane people? Someone stop this. Maybe I should.

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