After almost 2 years of being parents, my wife and I have realized that we have a “Spirited Child”, ie, a child who is just more of everything. As such, we’re trying to be sensitive to his needs, temperament, and personality. Large scale disruptions can mean hours (yes, plural) of uncontrollable tantrums. Included in these disruptions are holidays, unforeseen changes in plans, and of course, birthdays.
As we started to list all of the people who we would like to invite, we realized that the list had grown to over 40 people. For a second birthday party that is a ridiculous amount of people, but not unheard of for my cultural upbringing (but seriously offensive for my wife’s WASPy sensibilities). Nonetheless, we realized that our kid would be so overstimulated and our attention so divided that we needed to come up with a plan. So we had to wade into the world of parental politics and decide whom we were going to invite.
The first thing we did was to really look at the list of people we were inviting and ask: Why were we inviting them? Because they invited us to their kids’ parties? Were they family? Friends of ours with small kids?
We then remembered another 2-year old’s birthday party that we were at recently. There were a lot of people there and all sorts of chaos, organized and unorganized. We barely got to see the kid who was having a birthday, much less socialize with everyone else. Family and friends were separated by awkwardness, only connected by a loose bond they had with the birthday kid. That’s not how we wanted the party to be. We want the party to be a reflection of our kid’s life, to be surrounded by people who love him and have supported us as parents. That definition, though, did not help us to lower the number of people we wanted to invite.
While driving to work one day a sudden flash of inspiration hit me – why don’t we just have two smaller parties? One for close family and one for close friends? To be frank, our families don’t really care too much about our friends and want to maximize the time that they spend with our kid and with other family; they don’t want to make awkward small talk with people they barely know and navigate around kids they’ve never met. Our friends could come to another gathering to celebrate and socialize, and to have all of the kids play together. We would still have to trim the guest list, but overall it would be much more manageable.
By having two smaller parties, we figured that we can have them at our home and not have to find a venue and overpay for an overwhelming party. We would essentially have the same party twice, so only one plan and one set of errands for food and supplies would have to made. We’ll get to spend more time with the people who matter to us. Isn’t that really what birthday celebrations are all about?
What do you think? Are we being too indulgent? What compromises have you made for your kids’ birthdays?