My son turned 6 recently. Leading up to his birthday we had all sorts of party plans and like most party plans that involve kids, they changed daily, some times hourly. This would be my son’s first organized party. In the past we’ve been fortunate enough to convince him that celebrating with the family was best (and last year it was). But this year he wanted to party with his friends.
Since my son goes to skateboard school we thought about doing a skateboard party. My son was keen on it because he wanted to show off his new skateboard tricks. But the adult voice kicked in. Some of the kids on the ‘guest list’ would be young and we wanted a party that all could participate in.
We nixed the skateboard party.
Then we thought about doing a movie party, taking all the kids to the movie theatre. Toy Story 3 would be coming out soon (sadly before my son’s birthday). Although there were a few movies on our families movie list – we’re counting down the days on a calendar to see The Last Air Bender — that persistent adult voice kicked in again. What we let our kids watch may not be suitable for others. I didn’t want my son’s birthday to be remembered as the event that sent some kids into therapy.
We nixed the movie party.
Then I received an email on a water park weekend special at Splash Lagoon in Erie Pennsylvania. We’ve always wanted to go; it’s not a far drive and there’s a Target, Steak and Shake, and Chick-fil-a all at the same stop. We even convinced my son that maybe we should go away to celebrate as a family again this year; put off having the friend party. Well you guess is, adult voice. Seems my passport expired in April not August as I originally thought (why they have months starting with the same letter is beyond me).
We nixed the family water park adventure.
As I debated on what type of party to have, realizing we had to sort it out soon, I wondered why I was beating myself up over the whole thing. I think there’s so much pressure (self-imposed sometimes) on hosting a super cool party, the party everyone at school will be talking about, the party of the year. It’s got to be themed. It’s got to have games. It’s got to have prizes. It’s got to have loot bags. I remember how exhausting my daughter’s Webkinz themed party was.
When I stopped stressing about decorations and invitations and entertainers, I thought long and hard about what my son would really want for his birthday (besides more Lego). All he would want is to have his friends over to his house and play. That’s it. No clowns. No jumpy castle (though I’m sure he would have used it). Just running and jumping and screaming in the backyard.
So that’s what we did. We had a party playdate. We gave the kids a water gun and hot wheel car and they were set for the afternoon. Then we just had hamburgers and hotdogs on the BBQ. Even the parents hung around for a drink or two.
My son smiled non-stop and still talks about his party. Now of course my 3-year-old is planning her birthday, for December!
Sometimes the easiest things are the best things.