I have a friend who might, quite possibly, be the Ultimate Parent™. I base my assessment not on the fact that she has unlimited patience with her young son, or makes a mean chocolate chip cookie. My friend earns this title because she throws the best children's parties since time began.
At least twice a year, usually at Halloween and on her son's birthday, my friend throws a blow-out. There is inevitably a theme around which her home is elaborately decorated. There's usually catering -- kid-friendly foods and beverages for the boy of the hour and his friends, and more adult fare for the rest of us. There is always -- always! -- a huge bouncy castle, upon which deliriously euphoric children are invariably hurtling themselves to breathtaking heights. There are always creative, unusual parting gifts for the children, making them feel like they were actually the focus of the party.
And there, there is always me, standing around with my mouth hanging open, trying to take it all in.
See, I don't think I can do that. I mean, of course I love my daughter. Of course when it comes to celebrating her birthday, I want her to have a good time. But I just don't think I'm a blow-out kinda mom. Part of the reason has to do with ensuring that Alex doesn't grow up with an unhealthy sense of entitlement, but if I'm honest with myself, really truly brutally honest, I have to admit:
I'm just lazy.
I mean, really, the planning that goes into each of these parties must be mind-boggling! And I always feel sort of sorry for her whenever I'm leaving one of these parties; I couldn't imagine facing the mess that's left behind. In my world, for the foreseeable future, Alex is going to have to be more than pleased with a simple celebration by the beach or in a park: a cooler filled with juice boxes (and beer for the grown-ups), and a stack of cupcakes (homemade, of course, so that Alex has the opportunity to lick the bowl). Parting gifts will have to be from the Dollar Store. And the entertainment will have to be whatever the kids come up with at the beach or park: building sandcastles, perhaps, or throwing Frisbees. See? Easy, no muss, no fuss, and best of all, no huge clean-up at my house.
Still, I can't help but think that perhaps I should show a little more ... I dunno, initiative? ... when it comes to planning my daughter's birthdays. Does it make me horrible that I'm just not into throwing giant bashes for my kid every year?
Karen Walrond is a recovering attorney. She currently lives with her husband and daughter in Trinidad & Tobago.