‘Tis a gift to be simple….

Posted: Monday, September 29th, 2008

Sand Buckets for All

Sand Buckets for All

On Saturday we celebrated Speed’s 4th birthday. 

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that preparing for the party consumed every free moment of my life for the weeks leading up to the party. 

It didn’t start out that way – we were just planning to have a few friends meet at the playground.  But as the date got closer I kind of whipped myself into a frenzy.  For example, I decided that since we were having the party at a playground that has a fantastic sand and water area, we should give each kid a sand bucket and sand toys to play with during the party.  Apparently, sand buckets are “out of season” now (despite the fact that it’s still consistently 85 degrees and sunny here) so I drove to eleven stores until I found them.   Once I had the buckets I decided they should be personalized to make each guest feel special and to avoid ”that’s MY bucket” squabbles at the party – so I stayed up for most of a night with a pile of paint-pens and 22 sand buckets.  

I spent a ridiculous amount of time on a number of equally ridiculous tasks (you should see the “slices per person” calculations I came up with to determine how much pizza to order!)   Even at the time I knew it was all a little ridiculous, but when you love someone the way a mom loves her soon-to-be four year old, you just want to make sure his birthday party is “perfect”…right?

And I have to say…it was pretty great.   Everything turned out perfectly and all the kids, especially my birthday boy, seemed to have a really wonderful time.

Chiquy Boom makes a splash at the party!

Chiquy Boom makes a splash at the party!

That night when I was tucking Speed in I said “So, what was your favorite  part of your birthday party?” 

He thought for a second and then said “Having cake”. 

I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry.  So I decided to laugh.  “Having cake”.  Of course that was his favorite part.  Because when you’re three having cake is going to be your favorite part.  Personalized sand buckets, stilt-walking balloon artists, and piles of pizza are just…well….icing on the cake.  But what you’re really there for is to hear all your friends sing “Happy Birthday to You” and to be the one to blow out the candles and to get the very first piece of cake.

So Speed ended up giving me a pretty great gift for his birthday.   He gave me permission to keep it simple next year.  To focus on the important things, and let go of the ridiculous things.  He reminded me what’s important about birthdays…I hope I remember!

How do you help your child celebrate birthdays?  Do you keep it simple or go over the top?   What has been your child’s best birthday celebration so far?   Share your stories in a comment.  At the end of each week we choose one comment at random to win a prize from the Education.com closet – a wonderland of toys, books, and kid gear galore. 

2 Responses to “‘Tis a gift to be simple….”

  1. karen katz Says:

    As for the good mother of the year award, I must say that I too am very far from it. Reading all about Whiz’ birthday extravaganza, made me think that my kids are super deprived! When all possible, I try combining my daughter’s and my youngest son’s parties because they are 10 days apart. I am also huge believer in having the party OUTSIDE MY HOME. That is not to say that I spend mucho dinero on these parties. I’m all about renting out the local park for some downhome playground games such as capture the flag, dodgeball, and my all time favorite – ding dong ditch (i’m kidding about the last one). One year we even bribed our oldest child with an I-Pod Shuffle instead of a party – and he took the bait! Best birthday celebration ever…And for his actual birthday we grabbed two of his friends, headed off the nearest ice skating rink during a blizzard and had open skate with bascially our family, the two friends and about 1/2 dozen hearty New Englanders. Ended the night slidding and skidding to the area Friendly’s for dinner. He still says it was his best birthday yet!

    My husband after returning from a business trip to China, told me that in that country they do not celebrate their own birthdays. The birthday is actually a celebration for the mother of the child. They give thanks to their mom’s for bringing them into the world! Think that’s an awesome idea – maybe someone will make me a cake this year on each of the three childrens’ birthdays, along with a full ride to the local spa! The aborigines (spelling error I’m sure) also do not celebrate birthdays on the date of their birth. They only celebrate their birth when they feel they accomplished something of importance. Would that mean that when I save $15.00 at Stop & Shop, I can throw myself a big bash?! What a world that would be.

  2. Dorothy Says:

    I laughed out loud as I read your intro. Last year, I got all crazed about 100 details for my daughter’s fourth birthday. Everyone had a good time. I was wiped out for a week. I learned the hard way that simple is OK. This year, the toughest job I will have is baking cupcakes. And you know what, everyone will still have a good time.

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