Posted by: laughs4dads | October 25, 2010

The Mess of Honor, Part II

On Friday, I wrote about the parental idiocy of throwing first birthday parties for children. But I don’t want you to think that throwing parties on their kids’ first birthdays is the dumbest thing parents do.  That would be far from the truth.  Because they also throw parties on their kids’ second birthdays.

Granted, by this time the kids are walking, running and destroying with ease.  Some are even talking.  And the smarter ones might even have some conception of different days of the week (Tuesday, of course, occurring after Onesday and before Threesday).  But they still have no conception of special occasions like birthdays or “The Day Daddy Gets to Sleep Late.”

The big difference between first and second birthdays is that the parents have begun practicing the famous one-upmanship spirit that they will nurture through future birthdays, bar mitzvahs, and so on, until the wedding.  This means that if one party is held at McDonald’s, no one else’s party can be there.  Further, the next party has to be at Chuck E. Cheeses, the next at a bowling alley (watch out for the bowling robots–see last post), etc., until sometime in December, when you wind up at the Rainbow Room.  Obviously, the financial advantage here goes to parents with kids born early in the year, and this more than makes up for the tax savings you lost by having your kid in January.

Another option is to throw a simple party but to include top name entertainment like Chloe the Clown, who, I swear, had the ability to keep thirteen kids quiet for as many as three seconds.  Keep in mind that this feat was performed by a highly trained professional and you should definitely not attempt it at home.

Each party, of course, necessitated a trip to Toys R Us for a present and, not incidentally, a couple of hundred dollars worth of stuff for Casey.  Here’s how that worked: with Casey standing in the shopping cart, Barbara would begin her sojourn through the aisles.  Let’s say in Aisle One, she saw the perfect something for little So-and-so.  She’d put it in the cart.  The appropriate next step would be to proceed to the cash registers.  Instead, Barbara would go to Aisle Two, where she’d see something that was even more perfect for little So-and-so.  She’d put that in the cart.  But meanwhile, Casey had become very attached to the first perfect something and informed Barb that the item was simply not available for replacement on the shelves.  She’d do this by shouting “MINE!” in a voice that was something of a cross between Darth Vader and the Wicked Witch of the West.  By the time the cart rolled out of Aisle 97…well, you get the idea.

But the shopping excursion was not yet done.  You know what’s coming, right? Yup, the greeting card.  No, the recipient won’t be able to read the card, but it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?  In fact, an acquaintance of ours once complained that buying the card is the hard part: “The gift is easy,” he said.  “But I hate the cards.  I never know whether to get a humorous one or a serious one.  Is a clown appropriate, or a teddy bear?”

And speaking about cards, here’s the dumbest thing of all. Invariably, about a week after the party, your child will get mail.  Your two-year-old probably doesn’t get much mail, maybe just an occasional credit card offering (“You’re pre-approved!”). But she will get mail one a week after the party. It will be a thank you card, which will say something to the effect of

Dear [your kid’s name],
Thank you so much for coming to my birthday party and for the great (fill in gift).  I am having lots of fun with it. Hope you had a good time at my party.
Love,
(name of child)

You must admit that it is something short of sane to be sending cards from people who can’t write to people who can’t read.  Sometimes, the parents who ghostwrite these cards will go out of their ways to make it look as though their kids actually wrote it by doing it in crayon or making backwards esses.  Like they’re really going to fool us, right?   

By now I think I’ve made it clear that I believe parties and everything associated with them is all foolishness.  When do I think it’s okay to give birthday parties?  When a child begins requesting specific gifts at least six months prior to the occasion–that’s when it’s okay to have a party.  Because at that time, and no sooner, the child has acquired an adequate awareness of the occasion.  And he or she has acquired something else that will come in handy:

A sense of greed.

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