Friday, March 9, 2007

Sorry We Can't Make it to Your Child's Party

But we will be in Utah.

This is what I say every time Crabtot is invited to a children's birthday party (i.e., a large festival, charitably involving everyone and their parents).

As pictured here, Crabtot is enraged because the birthday kid had received a present, and Crabtot, hopped up on cake and juice, does not understand why she couldn't snatch the present -- a lovely little doll -- and have a really long "turn" with it. (I wish I were a better techiemom and could have cropped this photo and enlarged just Tot's face and mine, but I no longer have even so much as Photoshop on my barely-hanging-on-by-a-thread computer, so...but click on pic and I think it will get bigger, the better to appreciate the facial expressions in it).

Here's an open question to people who hold large b’day parties for small people: why don’t you put Benadryl in the cake icing? Come on, it’s a special occasion. Once a year. And they would enjoy themselves so much more if they were…asleep.

My policy is not to let Crabtot attend gigs where there will be more than a scant handful of tots. This was one of the most appalling Saturdays of my momlife. After the moment pictured above, she ran out of the living room and into the hallway, then sank to her knees, and bashed her head on the (concrete) floor. Not pictured. I was not smiling.
More posting to come, when I am not sick in bed. I don’t know what is worse, being sick or trying to open the Dayquil blister-pack. (Oh, bloody hell. Now Google is going to put Dayquil ads on my blog. Got to get my meta-tagging going....)

Do post your thoughts on tot b'day extravaganzas. I haven't added my strongest opinion: no presents. Seriously, I am not trying to be Cheapmommy here (though you know I am). I am talking about the crap, the extra stuff they don't need, deserve or -- and this is the big one for me -- want, much less know how to ask for. Don't bring presents to those who don't yet know to expect them. This is obvious, no? But apparently not so obvious to all.
My policy is to bring a used book to those seeking the b'day presents for the 2-yr-old. I always buy a cool vintage book and then sort of write an explanatory note "as" Crabtot (cringe) about her mommy loving to collect used books -- and "hoping you will like this one too, even though your mommy obviously doesn't respect the environment and wants you to be a spoiled consumer receiving birthday presents from near strangers although you are only 2."
Used Curious George edition from local bookstore, hardcover, $3, so much better than new. And so much better than the Dreamlove Care Bear. Right? Did I mention $3?


txmama3 said...

i did use the "no gifts" clause on my daughter's invites last year, and it was confounding to all recipients. the phone calls ensued. i said a book was fine if you MUST bring something... all in all it did cut down on useless crap we had to haul home. this year in my haste i forgot the no gifts clause and i just threw away polly pockets miniscule shoes, polly pocket soon to follow.

Crabmommy said...

I sure know what it means to go against the tide and end up feeling like a ponce b/c nobody else around you follows your vibe. How often does the Crabmommy preach one thing and end up doing another? the word "hypcorite" and I are not strangers. As a mom, I have had to eat my words many a time...This time next year I will probably be the one with the giant b'day shabang and mounds of polly pockets everywhere.

Undomestic said...

I went to a one year old party before with an invitation that said "No gifts." I showed up to a huge pile of gifts...and the mother actually sat therewith her son as part of the party, having him open them. I felt like an idiot. Now I feel compelled to always bring a gift, no matter what the request.

Crabmommy said...

Undomestic, how awful. Bad enough to say "no gifts" but then to change one's mind and have kid open presents in ceremonious fashion around other 2-yr-olds. Appalling!

I wish I could say that I will always hold my head up high and refuse to bring any gifts to anyone unless they are in the used book variety but while the Crabmommy has her strong opinions her real-life counterpart has moments of go-with-the-flow weakness. There is something about other mothers that is wildly intimidating and one often capitulates and then feels like a fool for doing so afterward. Maybe we should write up a manifesto promising certain things and swearing not to break the promise. Perhaps I'll do that for my belated New Year's Resolutions, viz. "I shall respect 'no gift' clauses at all times and shall never let anyone force me to buy a Lil Bratz limousine." said...

Yikes ... I must be out of the loop! I have NEVER been invited to a childs party where no gifts were indicated (only old people do that here ... like really old people (85+ set) who don't want or need anything except company).

Undomestic: aren't you supposed to open the gifts at the party in front of the guests? Again I have NEVER been to a party where they didn't except my own sons last year. We had it at the movies and the manager told me the movie was 1 hour 20 minutes and it was 120 minutes (moron)and the parents were there to pick up the kids before we were able to open them.

Crabmommy said...

Mommyknows, I think you have older kids and from my perspective, just to be clear -- of course they get presents on b'day. Don't want to seem a total mean grump on that. But what I'm talkign about -- and I think some of the others here -- are a) those parties with shoals of kids -- literally tons of them, where the receiving of presents borders on obscene and b) presents for the very teeny-tiny who don't yet know what it means to expect a stash of stuff. I say, why give until they ask, and even then, keep it modest. Seeing a 2-yr-old in front of a towering stack and opening the presents in front of uncomprehending party attendees who don't know why they can't have a present -- this seems cruel, if not (sadly) unusual, punishment for us all.

Sorry about the stupid movie guy...and thanks again for the tech tips. said...

Ahh ... your right crabmommy most of the parties at my house are for the older kids. I don't usually have parties for them until they are 3 or 4. We do of course celebrate when they are younger but a 1st Birthday is usually just with family (mom, dad, brothers, sisters, grandma, grandpa etc.)

I was the lucky giver of a party today my daughters 8th birthday @ a pottery studio.

I have to say I HATE birthday parties with a passion.

Whatever happened to 3 or 4 kids, some hotdogs, cake and ice cream at home with a couple rounds of "mother may I" or "red rover"?

Parties are getting out of hand! The expensive venues, lootbags and now some schools are making you invite the whole class or ALL the boys or ALL the girls.

And I am guilty of going along with it. Really, who wants to be the kid who has the CRAP parties? And even worse, who wants to be that kids mom?

Gotta run ... have to book the petting zoo, jumpy castle and entertainment for the next set of parties! NOT (as the kids would say).

Randi Barros said...

We went to a birthday party
recently and they made the grave mistake of serving a
German cinnamon cake instead of an American style
birthday cake. Isabella was outraged. "I'm not
eating any of it!" she yelled to anyone who would
listen. "not even one bite." Then, she turns to me
and loudly asks, "are they going to have goody bags at
this party? what about a pinata?" And, if that
wasn't embarassing enough (everyone was politely
giggling) she then decided to announce a discovery of
hers. "Mommy," she yells to me, "boys go peepees
standing up, but girls go peepees sitting down."
That's right, I said. "Except when they go poopies,"
she yells to the entire party, "and then they both sit
down." Who knows why she just figured that out at
that moment - or felt like it was important to explain
it to everyone....!!

4thright said...


Just found your blog. It's lekker! I lived in South Africa for 18 months, and am an irritable atheist mom of a crabteenmonster and a crabpassiveaggressivelikehis dad. 14 and 8, it doesn't get better. I'm having an entire weekend of feeling worn down to a nub, and your wave length found me. Ach, yah!

A bit late on the b-day party thread, but I learned my most sanity & grace saving tip at the myriad South African b-day parties in tea gardens all over the Joberg burbs: They don't open the gifts untils they get home, seem to think it was vulgar to do so at the parties. My crabP-A-L-H-D. did not approve or understand at first, but when his 2nd SA b-day party came 'round, and he got to appreciate one thing at a time, on the floor of his own temporary expat home, he dug it. I brought the trick to his next US party, stating in the invite that to reduce craziness in the b-day boy and his mom, we would be appreciating the gifts at home. I still do way too much at parties, but this nastiness is done with. Some friends here have asked to copy my invite insert. I miss SA desperately, and I do not have wavelengths with many in my small midwest town. Thanks for the shared insanity.

Crabmommy said...

Randi, my God, when I first read your story, I thought Isabella was sounding off at her OWN bday party. Which would have been bad enough. But the truth is that much worse...and of course funnier. Love it.
4thright, ag man lekker! Welcome. You;re rght. I think we SA'ns keep the unwrapping for later. Good to remember when and if I ever let Crabtot have a party with prezzies, poor little thing.