Thursday, April 12, 2012

5 Universal Laws of Kids' Birthdays

Why do kid's birthdays always seem to degenerate into a giant cluster of stress, disappointment, exhaustion and not enough juice boxes? Seriously. I want to know.

You see, I'm doing my very best not to raise bratty, over-entitled children. We give them each three presents at Christmas. THREE. We discuss with them how much things cost and what is reasonable. We talk a lot about gratitude and taking things for granted. We tell them stories about how poor mommy and daddy were when they were little. I have no idea if it's sinking in. Because when it comes to birthdays, especially with little kids - all bets are off.

I should also say that I make no effort to keep up with the Joneses and their Pinterest-perfect cupcakes. In large part because I lack the skills and resources required to do so. Once, I threw a bouncy house party with my friend Ellen and I was almost murdered by a serial killer. After that I pretty much gave up.

But I made careful study of kids and birthdays and from that, I created these five universal laws. Starting with...
 

1)  The Expectation Proclamation
The 7-12 days before their birthday, your child will be up your bum like a proctologist on meth. No matter how much you try and inject reason into their squirrelly little brains, it will not work. Why am I a mean mommy? Because I was unwilling to buy a large Bengal tiger. That's how toddlers are. One friend made her child cry because she said no when he asked for a power saw. He was four.

This would totally happen to me.
2) The Bait and Switch
Someone will promise to get your child a very important birthday present. The one thing they really, really want. It will be a huge relief because you really can't afford it/don't have time to track it down/insert reason here. Then without telling you, they'll change their mind and send something else like underpants or a Bratz doll. To which there is only one response. Writing a nice thank you note and hauling your ass to Target before it closes, except not in that order.

3) The Chernobyl Moment
On the actual day, the birthday kid is going to have a melt down so intense and horrifying that you're going to wonder if you need a neurological consult. They are clearly over-wrought with the excitement of it all, but this fact is easily lost in the midst of a potentially ten alarm tantrum. If it happens in public, you will be both flabbergasted at the brattiness and lack of gratitude your child is showing and also completely humiliated in front of your friends and family. Hopefully instead of getting the righteous sniff from your Aunt Suzie, someone kind will remind you that this frequently happens, pat you on the shoulder, and hand a you a refreshing adult beverage.

4)  Putting the "B" in Birthday
If you throw a party, you will probably (and temporarily) turn into a raging B. This occurs simultaneously with spending too much money and trying valiantly not to square up on the parent who comes an hour early/picks up two hours late/brings three extra kids. Don't forget the urge to be unfairly evil to your husband for no apparent reason. Also, for many of us with young children, the only time our houses get REALLY clean is when people are coming over. So in addition to the party stress, please add the need power-wash the bathrooms, steam clean the carpets, remember that you have baseboards and wash them and - oh yes - find whatever is causing that smell.

5) The Denouement
At the end of the day, you will gently tuck your beloved child into bed and ask them if they had a happy birthday. At which point your child will hug you and thank you and then say something to let you know that despite your hard work and exhaustive efforts, it was at least partially a disappointment.

Try not to let it bother you, sweetie. There there. Here's a nice adult beverage.
xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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