Birthday Party Apologetics
The last couple of weekends we have had birthday parties on our family agenda and I am reminded once again why I love these things.
I am completely serious.
Amidst the whining, crying, toy stealing, and piles of tissue paper I decided a long time ago to love birthday parties.
At this point some of you might be asking: “Dear God, why?”
I’m glad you asked.
I have a great appreciation for these crazy two-hour rituals…and with four children age nine and younger it is a good thing, too!
I am so excited to have a chance to explain why!
So, before you laugh, cock that eyebrow, sneer in disgust, or sigh in exhaustion at the mere thought of the party scene, please, read on.
Outside the obvious fact that many times these parties celebrate little people we really do love I have some very specific reasons for my love and appreciation of the madness. I make a case for the idea that you should appreciate birthday parties, too, even if you do not have a great love for them.
- Birthday parties are practice grounds for manners.
Birthday party attendance is an excuse to have parenting pep talks on the way on basic etiquette: “What do you tell your friend when you get there?” (Happy birthday!) “What do you say when we leave?” (Thank you for inviting me!) If it is their own birthday party “What do you say when you get a present and you don’t really like it?” (Thank you!)
2. Birthday parties are pressurized situations where children learn subtle social cues and niceties.
They learn to wait their turn (for cake and ice cream), be encouraging and happy for someone else (while the other child opens presents), and to interact with adults of all ages. Communication and relationship skills are put to the test.
3. At birthday parties my children get to meet other children from different social circles in the community.
Their friend from church likely has other friends from school that my child doesn’t know. At the birthday party new friendships are formed and now my child has an extended social support network. In a small town this network building grows over time. The more times my child has to practice meeting new friends the more likely he or she will be comfortable making new friends later in life…like in MIDDLE SCHOOL (shudder).
4. At birthday parties I get to socialize.
This reason is sad, I know, but as a busy mother of four children birthday parties become my chance to see friends and meet new ones. I know, I know…I shouldn’t live through my children and all that jazz. Blah, blah, blah. See this post for more on what I think on that subject.
5. As I socialize at birthday parties and make new friends, I am helping build my child’s social network.
I am building “social capital” for my child…as well as extra parenting support. The more parents I know the better it is for my children. I have more eyes watching them as they grow up and more hearts turned towards them in care.
Birthday parties. Sure, every now and then you leave one embarrassed with your screaming child thrown over your shoulder crying out: “I want to ride their new power wheels car!!!!” If you are the one throwing the party they are expensive, messy, and exhausting.
However, they’re going to keep happening. Rather than ignoring the invitations and coming up with excuses, why not try a new outlook?
They really are AWESOME, you know?
I love them.
I think you are doing your child (and you!) a disservice if you avoid them.
And, I’ll miss chatting with you over the face-painting table if you don’t come!
That would be so sad. I probably won’t see you again for…I don’t know…probably a year or two if you don’t show up.
And, let’s not talk about the fact that my oldest is about to grow out of the party scene.
So, see you at the next one, K?