Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wretched Excess


(Actual present given at five-year-old’s birthday party.* Hand to God, y’all.)


I have a five-year-old and it’s the weekend, which can only mean one thing: Random Classmate’s Birthday Party! Yippee!

Last weekend I told you about the two lovely birthday parties we went to which were held in 1957. Our luck didn’t hold out. This party most assuredly checked its calendar.

Before I type one more potentially-judgmental-sounding word, let me type this: It’s not you, it’s me. I had a therapist once tell me I was born in the wrong decade. She might have been on to something there. Just consider the clues: All I ever wanted to be when I grow up is a wife and mother. My husband handles the money, takes out the trash, and mows the lawn.** And I can squeeze a penny till two pop out. If they had wine in a box and Netflix, I think I really could’ve taken a pretty good stab at happiness in the fifties. So a lot of what passes as standard operating procedure today just makes my brain itch.

Like, when did it become de rigueur for little children’s birthday parties to be held in party venues that cost hundreds of dollars? Sweet sixteen, maybe. But five? Really? Are our kids’ worlds getting so big that the backyard birthday party has grown too small? Or are their attention spans shrinking so much that their fun has to be plugged in and pumped up? Did Donkey Kong kill Pin the Tail on the Donkey?

I don’t suppose there is a clear-cut right or wrong way to celebrate your child’s birthday. Just preference, and accommodation to schedule and lifestyle. Not everybody has a beautiful Wiccan party planner at their disposal. Some people work so hard all week it’s all they can do to make a phone call to the Birthday Big Box and sign the check. As long as the children come out happy, does it really matter?

Who knows?

I tend to look at parenthood as The Ultimate Science Fair Project (although probably an experiment better saved until after eighth grade). We toss in a dash of this and a handful of that; put on our goggles and wait to see if anything blows up. If only the results were as instant as baking soda and vinegar. Our foam might not come spewing out for decades.

But I fear that all this wretched excess is exposing our kids to dangerous toxins that will take root in their souls and fester over the years. What symptoms will manifest themselves as the disease progresses? Or is it all benign?

All I know for sure is that this . . .

. . . feels wrong.

Is there an inverse relationship between how much we get and how much we appreciate?

Could less really be more?

*Ok, that one was from me. Sorry. But it was a totally awesome present, purchased at a garage sale, and it was for a kid I love, not a random classmate. So shut up.

**He also does most of the cooking, baking, shopping, cleaning, and laundry. I do Facebook and drink. Okay, so maybe I’m not all that old school after all.

1 comment:

Judy H. said...

What the heck will it take to please the little darlins when they're in their teens.
We're setting some dangerous precedents, I fear.
The bar is set way too high!