I guess I’m a party pooper. My son turned five in September, and as usual, my wife threw him an elaborate and expensive birthday party, complete with a theme, of course. Now that we have another kid to celebrate, the birthday party nightmare is only going to get worse.
When Detective Munch turned one, it was a circus theme. For two, it was Yo Gabba Gabba! At three, it was all about trains, and at four, he and his friends got capes and dressed as superheroes. This time around, it was a pirate-themed affair, complete with invitations that looked like—and were actually burned at the edges to look like—old treasure maps, a corresponding treasure hunt, and plastic swords and eye-patches for all the scurvy little dogs to take home and subsequently use to terrorize their parents.
It was fun. My son had fun, his friends had fun, everyone had fun. Even the adults! (We provided beer and mimosas because WE’RE NOT MONSTERS.) That doesn’t mean I want to do it again.
I don’t enjoy party planning in general, but party planning for children might be the worst. I came up with a list of reasons throwing your kid a birthday party is so terrible.
1. The Planning
I’m pretty sure my wife starts thinking about my son’s next birthday party in the middle of his current birthday party. Then she spends the next 12 months scouring Pinterest, writing lists, ordering supplies and asking my opinion on things I have no opinion on. Just like our wedding!
2. The Setup
The good news is the planning is over. The bad news is the execution is just as bad. Oh my god, the amount of pre-party prepping that needs to be done! If planning the party is like planning a wedding, setting up the party is like moving: the worst. Next year, we should throw in some surgery and air travel just to cover all the bases and make throwing my kid a birthday party the most stressful event in the history of the universe.
3. The Cleanup
You’d think that after all the cupcakes were eaten and the goody bags were taken home there wouldn’t be much left to do, but you’re forgetting three things: the amount of trash, the sheer destructive ability of a mob of children and all the gifts. It’s cool though, because this year we held the party in the park, so I got to throw my back out once in the morning when I carried everything in and then again that night when I carried everything out.
4. The Cost
If you rent a place, it’s a fortune in actual money. If you have the party at home, it costs you your sanity, and that’s before you even get to the food and drinks and party favors and decorations and post-party steam cleaning and eventual attorney costs after your kid hits another kid in the face with one of those oh-so-authentic looking plastic swords from the “dollar” store that actually cost three bucks each.
5. They Won’t Remember Shit
Kids turning 5 are about as likely to remember their birthday parties as kids turning 21, but at least for the kid turning 21, that’s the whole point.
As mentioned above, there’s always a theme, and I’m always forced to participate. I have a son so I’ve dodged the princess bullet, but I’m pretty sure next year I’m going to be dressing as Han Solo. So at least there’s a silver lining!
Pinterest and Facebook are great places to get super-cute ideas for party favors and birthday cakes. Pinterest and Facebook are also great places to compile spiteful lists of smug, crafty, do-it-yourself moms you want to crush by throwing a superior party.
8. Too Many Kids
I don’t have to worry about the next one for another six months, but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally wake up in a cold sweat thinking about all the terrible aspects of throwing my kids a birthday party. I love my kids to death, and I am excited to see them grow up, but if it meant no more party planning, I would’t mind if they stayed this age forever. (I guess the Hammer can get a few years under his belt so I don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night just to burp him.)
A slightly modified version of this post originally ran on Scary Mommy.