This one. Where parents spend six figures on their kids’ birthday parties, presumably to satisfy an already spoiled teen and to keep up with the Joneses who are also throwing supersized parties that – let’s face it – aren’t any fun since the kids are only 16 and can’t even drink. (Unless the parents are SUPER cool.) The minute I saw that show I knew – no matter how rich I might one day become – I would never spoil my kids so obnoxiously, nor have kids who were so obsessed with popularity and status, nor waste so much of my own time and money on a child’s birthday party.
And then my son’s first birthday approached. And my wife organized a circus-themed party complete with a ball pit, popcorn and more. And my life began to spiral downward into an abyss of despair.
Happy birthday, kiddo!
In all seriousness, it was my birthday last week. And my wife put together a very nice event for me, complete with a trip to a shooting range and a bunch of carbombs, not necessarily in that order. And my wife has delivered for my birthday before – every year since we’ve been together, actually – so it’s no surprise that she would pull out all the stops for the new love of her life as he reaches his first birthday landmark.
But he’s ONE! And all his “friends” are approximately one. Meanwhile, everyone else (read: the parents) just wants to drink. But we can’t. Because we have to make sure no one drowns in the ball pit. So, ironically, the kid for whom the extravagant party is being thrown won’t be able to remember any of it, no matter how hard he tries, and – due to the severe lack of alcohol – the adults for whom the party does mean something won’t be able to forget it no matter how hard they try, BECAUSE THEY’LL ALL BE SOBER.
First birthdays are a big deal, obviously. Both for the parents (we survived!) and for the kid (he survived!). But I’m pretty sure I could take a shit in a paper bag and let my son look at it for five minutes and it would be the best day of his life. Seriously. So wearing a tophat and letting him sit motionless in a shallow pool of rubber balls might be amazing and all, but to him it’s not gonna be any better (or worse) than that time he stared at that bag of shit.
I love my son and I love my wife and the party is going to be fun (contrary to my whining above, there will be some booze available). I am going to love having pictures of the event to look back on and share with my kid when he’s old enough to know what’s going on (I figure around 12). But there’s no doubt that big first birthday parties, and 2nd and 3rd as well, are more for the parents than for the kids. And there’s nothing wrong with capturing memories for our children when they aren’t yet able to do it for themselves.
And if you don’t think I’m diving into that ball pit after shotgunning a few beers. then you’ve never been to one of my wife’s parties, kids-themed or otherwise.
Happy Birthday, son!