How To Throw a Child’s Birthday Party

If I were to tell you what my number one fear was when becoming a parent I’m sure you would guess either 1) keeping a helpless infant alive 2) sleepless nights with said helpless infant or 3) how to place a helpless infant into one of those godforsaken baby slings. However, the real answer is birthday parties. Before my 1st son was even born I worried about the planning, administering, conducting of, everything to do with having a successful birthday party. Seriously, this stressed me out.

I am not creative. I loathe Pinterest. I hate going to other children’s birthday parties. I don’t even want to go to my own child’s birthday party. But this year my son was turning 4. A 4 year old is starting to have actual friends and not just children I force him to play with because they have the same pant size. Not to mention, he is at an age where he might remember that he didn’t get to have a birthday party when he turned 4 because “mommy is lazy”, or whatever he will tell his future therapist.

The year before, when he was 3, I invited my friends’ children (once again from forced playdates) and did “Pancake and Pyjamas” theme, an idea I clearly stole from someone on Facebook who obviously trolls Pinterest like it’s her job. It went over well and of course I took complete credit and then suggested the idea to others like I came up with it on my own. Obviously. This year was going to be different though. I was going to have to invite children I did not really know. Children who have parents who could possibly judge me for not having enough crafts/songs/life lessons about sharing involved in this birthday party. I know I shouldn’t care about moms judging other moms, but y’all know it happens! I am still sensitive about not nursing my second child and affiliating that with why he grunts and points instead of talks, so back off!

I asked my son what he wanted to do for a theme and gently (with a bit of desperation) suggested we could do the same thing as last year because it was so much fun! Pancakes! Pyjamas! Extra syrup! No dice. Instead he replied, “Let’s do cake and clothes instead”. Helpful. So naturally I resorted to a Paw Patrol theme because that’s what all the other 4 years olds are doing (hey there is plenty of time for him to set his own path in life and be an individual and all that other crap).

So if you want to know exactly how to tackle that dreaded birthday party, I have some pointers. The first hurdle is the invitations. Right here is where things can get out of hand. Do I invite the whole class? Do I invite all the random kids in the neighborhood? More importantly, how many kids can I have in my home without inducing heart palpations? According to my husband, the answer is 3, but clearly I have to invite those kids that will make my child happy. You know because I am such a good mom.

Next, you need to think about the food. I know it’s annoying that you have to feed them. Obviously, I’ll order a mediocre cake from the grocery store the night before. I’ll assume that they can make a cake in the shape of one of the Paw Patrol dogs and hope for the best. (They don’t by the way…have to settle for a “Happy Birthday” written in icing). I suppose I could have done that myself, but I don’t bake and now is not the time to pretend that I do. Bless you if you saw the Pinterest post for Thomas the Train cupcakes using real trains and Kit Kat bars, but I’m not interested in that shit. Partly because I don’t see the necessity and partly because kids would eat cake served on the floor because IT’S CAKE. Maybe I am tainted because my children would happily eat food out of the garbage (oh and they have), but to me cake is cake. I also know enough to plan a birthday party between the hours of 2-4 so that all I have to serve is cake and a few juice boxes. I might put out of bag of chips on the counter, which would just be for me to eat while I watch children terrorize my home. Keep it simple and just make sure you don’t open the booze until the children leave (or at least until you can say “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere” when a parent gives you the evil eye).

Now here’s the thing. I’m a bit of a cheap ass. Shocker. That’s why I won’t buy/make some specialty cake. That is also why I figured having my child’s party in my own home would also be cheaper. But with having a home party comes the need to entertain and have games planned. Again, it’s because I’m supermom. I highly recommend having a plan here people. Don’t think you can “wing” this….that my friends, is a rookie mistake. So I had some crafts planned (paper bag puppets…not my first rodeo) and these foam dinosaur kits I got from the dollar store (double points there for cheapness). I had them ready just in case. I was hoping the kids would just run around and play. Nope they all loved the idea of a craft when my son spilled the beans about me buying glue, which could only mean one thing. Glue=messy craft=so much fun. Shoot. Me. Now. Crafts with 3 and 4 year olds (and my 22 month old to boot) is basically you making it for them while all the other kids scream at you “I need help”. “I want eyes on my puppy”.” I want to make a dragon that breathes real fire”. “Where is the glitter? I am not making anything unless you get me glitter.” And on and on it goes. This is the point where this two hour birthday party feels like it’s been 2 years. Two years in prison. Perhaps it would be better to make a bunch of puppets ahead of time and let them randomly put on stickers. I’ll let you know how that goes over next year.

After the craft and signing of “Happy Birthday” and eating of cake, there is the matter of the presents. Anyone with a young child has that fear. You know what I’m talking about. That fear that your child will throw a tantrum at the present they received, or god forbid ignore the gift entirely. Of course I spoke to my son (well we rehearsed a very well thoughtful and meaningful message) before the party to make sure he was thankful and appreciative. I suppose I was fearful about the story my mom tells about my brother’s 3rd birthday where he opened all his presents and told everyone he didn’t like any of them. Oh the horror! And that was back in the days when parents didn’t attend parties with their kids or if they did they sat in the kitchen smoking cigarettes and drinking Diet Coke. If your child does throw a fit at not liking a particular gift, I would simply throw out the old cliché “Kids will be kids”, or something along those lines and immediately fake an emergency that requires you anywhere but in that room.

Once you finish making your child hug every child at the party and look them directly in their eyes and say “Thank You”, you are just counting down the minutes until either the parents come to pick up their child or the parents that stayed get the hint that you want them out of your house. Just remember that this will soon end and you will be able to crack open that 8 dollar bottle of wine knowing that you deserve it because you are “Mom of the Year”! Don’t forget the goody bags though. Oh yes, the treat bag every child wants, but no parent appreciates having in their house. All goody bags are the same. Cheap ass toys from the dollar store, recycled pencils from every other birthday party, an organic, nut/peanut/ gluten free snack that will boost your child’s immune system, and stickers/tattoos that you will most likely toss in the trash when your child is not looking. I suppose it is a nice way to say “Thanks for coming to my birthday party”, but truly isn’t the joy of making your own paper bag puppet enough? It isn’t, so just give in and make up the goody bags with the above mentioned necessities and save yourself the criticism you will receive if you don’t do it. Then you are home free and you can relish in the fact that there will be 364 days until you have to do it again (unless you have more than one kid and you will likely have to do it again in like another month).

Oh and while we’re at it can we just can all the bullshit holidays please? You know what we used to get for Valentine’s Day? Yes that’s right…Valentine’s. That’s it. You know what we used to do for St. Patrick’s Day? NOTHING. That isn’t a thing until you are old enough to drink green beer. We did not have “Elf on the Shelf” at Christmas time. We had a “you better be good or you’ll be in trouble with dad” lecture that lasted all damn year. Christmas was one day, not three weeks of super fun surprises every damn day. You know what that clever little Easter bunny left us? Jelly beans and those giant chocolate bunnies that would accumulate a village in my parent’s deep freeze. So can we just go back to this please? I am far too lazy to add any more shit to my already shitty plate.

I vote that we make the birthday party and all holidays and non-holidays alike a much more simple affair. My birthday parties as a kid were the same every year. We went swimming at the local hotel pool and came back to my house for pizza and cake. And you know what? I loved it. I didn’t feel slighted because my mom didn’t spend $500 at Dino Bouncers. My mom is just like me…Mom of the Year…well at least in my kids’ eyes I am and that is all that matters anyways.

Next Post: How to decide on Baby #3 (Did we or didn’t we??)

C.B

How to figure me out…

Hey you! Yes you! Welcome to my blog! I wanted to introduce you all to what has been labelled as 2016’s New Year’s Resolution (3 months late….awesome start). I figured I’d try my hand at blogging since I need to jump on the “be your boss, work from home, earn extra income” bandwagon. So what the hell can I start that could lead to a home business? I don’t wear jewelry. I am more than happy to use the same skin cleanser I have used since I was 15. I don’t care about expensive Tupperware that I don’t even have room for. However, I have always wanted to have a forum where I could express my hilarious ideas and search for validation from complete strangers or people I haven’t seen or heard from since Grad ’97. Plus I get really really bored.

The first thing I needed to do after setting up my blog was to think about what I wanted it to be about. Obviously there are many facets that make up who I am, but I didn’t want to hone in on one particular part and write just about that. Therefore, I have decided to make this blog more of a “How To” blog where I impart my infinite wisdom on a complete gamut of subjects and pretend that I am a complete expert on everything. If you are not fluent in sarcasm I do suggest that you quit reading this immediately. I have no time for hurt feelings or anyone thinking I am remotely serious in half of what I say. Purely entertainment. I figure this introduction to all things Carmen and my wonderful blog entitled “Funny Girl Problems and How to Solve Them” should include a list of the most important points on how to get to know me.

1) The Basics: I have been married for six years and have two boys aged 4 and 2. Please stop asking me if we are “trying for a girl”. I tried for a girl 2 other times and ended up with boys. Don’t get me wrong. I love my boys and all that crap, but when I see my friends who have girls and post pictures of them reading quietly together and colouring nicely at a table, it enrages me. My boys run around without pants and try and cage match each other all day long. Also, don’t tell me that I will be happy I have boys when they are teenagers. That is like a decade from now, which in mom terms is like forty lifetimes. Plus, I will need to refinance my mortgage just to feed them….sounds like a dream.

2) I have a full time job as a teacher therapist, and even though this will disappoint many, I will not blog about my awesome and sometimes hilarious job. Sorry, but people get fired for that shit.

3) I don’t do my hair. I mean I wash it and stuff; I’m not disgusting, but my hair has looked the exact same since I was 2 years old. Part down the middle, semi long, blonde, and most likely in a half ponytail or pulled back in a headband. That, in a nutshell, says mostly everything you really need to know about me.

4) My least favourite personality type is high maintenance dumb people who think they are smart and low maintenance. You all know them (and sadly for some are related to them…but not me of course), and will agree with me that there is nothing worse. I would rather lick a fly swatter than spend an afternoon with someone who knows everything about everything, but would have trouble completing the skill testing question in McDonald’s Monopoly.

5) I love House Hunters, but hate House Hunters International. I love peas, but hate pea soup. Sometimes life is confusing.

6) When I was a child I wanted to grow up and be a maid. Kirk Cameron’s maid, but a maid nonetheless. Now I want to be on that show “Hoarding: Buried Alive”. Not as one of the hoarders, but as one of those people who have to wear Hazmat suits to clean out people’s houses of dead cats. I love decluttering and cleaning out people’s houses (and really I have only been allowed to clean out my mom’s since other people think “it’s weird” for me to start going through their stuff), but I always think this could be another career path for me. If you think you may require my services, just know that I charge by the hour and will resell most of your items on Varage Sale and keep the profits. Seems fair.

7) I have quite a few ridiculous fears. I know that they are illogical and random, but these are literally the things that keep me up at night: being attacked by wild dogs(or just regular dogs sitting on your couch looking out the window and barking at me), being forced fed mushrooms out of can (in fairness, this one actually happened…scarred for life), the fact that McDonald’s pizza was not popular enough to keep it on the menu and I may never again experience that deliciousness, making a meal in the crock pot and leaving it unattended for 10 hours in an empty house where the potential for fire seems imminent ( I mean seriously how do people do this??), being forced to do a job where I have to operate heavy machinery, and ordering any type of food over the phone (seriously this is a thing).

8) I do have a legitimate talent. I can remember people’s birthdays. If you are from my hometown (well even if you’re not I tell everyone I meet that I can do this) you would have heard about how I’m the girl who remembers birthdays. I can tell you what day of the week your birthday will fall on each year, what I did on that particular day, who else has a birthday the same day as you, etc. There was a 60 Minutes episode about this once and they referred to this type of ability as Superior Autobiographical Memory. For each person it can be something different. The one guy they interviewed could remember every single stat from his favourite football team. I can’t do that, but mainly because I absolutely have no interest in football. However, for some reason birthdays and dates in general are just kind of my forte. My husband thinks there is a market for this type of talent. However, I’m not so sure a good memory has helped me out at all. If anything it makes me super annoyed when people don’t remember things/events/MY ANNIVERSARY (for an example) when I so easily can. Perhaps this is the cross I have to bear.

9) I love television. I really do. I actually hate people who say “I hate tv” or “I don’t have time to watch tv” or “I’d just rather read a book.” Oh quit acting like you’re better than me and binge watch a series on Netflix already. Netflix seriously has changed my life. When I was sick with strep throat last month I watched the entire season of Fuller House in one day (Please no judgement….many of you had it set on your calendars too). Reality tv though is probably my personal favourite. Mainly because I long to be on Big Brother (but nothing else….too old to be on The Bachelor (well that and I’m married), I would never be able to do the challenges on Survivor, I would probably cry through The Amazing Race because I would yell at my partner for being so incompetent, and I’d be laughed off any cooking show with my signature Kraft Dinner and hot dogs dish). And let’s face it….when you have small children tv is the only friend you really have.

10) While I am a self-proclaimed expert on many things, there are some things I truly know nothing about. Most of these things are an embarrassment not only to myself, but to those people who did not teach them to me in the first place (sorry parents). I never knew that cars needed oil changes until I literally had no oil in my car and it quit working. I always thought that the question mark on town welcome signs meant “we don’t know what else is in this town” instead of the obvious “Information”. I have never operated a lawn mower. When I go to the hairdresser and she says “What would you like to do today?” I always say, “’you choose” because I literally have no idea what to say (see #3). It took me like 5 years to learn how to merge in traffic. The list goes on and on. But don’t worry, I will learn how to do those things I have not mastered and fill you in.

My plan is to update my blog at least once a month. I hope you enjoy it and it makes you laugh. That my friends, is all I am really looking for:)

Next post: How to throw a child’s birthday party (when you really, really hate them)

-CB