A Birthday Sans A Party

8 years ago

In exactly 17 days, my son isturning 10. In exactly 17 days, we will not have a birthday party as usual and he doesn’t mind that at all. The first & last birthday party I had for my son was for his 1st birthday. I still don’t think it qualified as a party, till this day. There was cake, ice cream & three of my girlfriends and another 1 year old child. To say that it was small and quaint would be an understatement.  The only memories of that party are the ones that the photos can provide the both of us. He does remember the talking Barney doll he received, that was subsequently broke when he flung it down a flight of stairs, about two weeks later.

Growing up, my mother never made a big deal out of birthday parties for my siblings and I. Birthdays were celebrated usually with an ice cream cake, a candle and the four of us singing Happy Birthday Day to each other. We never had friends over or solicited gifts from friends; it was something that really wasn’t a big deal to us. I truly think this is why my household does without the pomp and circumstance of having birthday parties.

This year I figured I would ask my son what he wanted to do for his birthday. I even put out the idea of having an actual party, and to invite a few of his friends over.  It really didn’t take him that long to decide whether he wanted a party or not. He answered with an immediate no. The only request he made was if he could bring cupcakes to school that day. Fifteen cupcakes versus a party for fifteen kids in my house? No problem!

A few of my other friends who have children tend to think I’m cheating my son out of the birthday party experience. I always wondered what experience is that exactly. Is it the receiving gifts experience? The celebrating with friends experience? I just don’t get what the experience is that he’s missing out on. He gets gifts from family members. The cake is usually shared between him, his cousin and me and for the past 9 years, I have yet to receive a complaint from him. Usually the only complaint that he’ll make is in regards to the type of cake. For some reason,he just doesn’t like ice cream cakes.

For the record, my son does attend birthday parties thrown by his friends or classmates. I remember one party in particular; the mother asked if I was throwing my son a birthday party as well. I replied to her with a simple, “no”, as I looked around and saw screaming kids jumping in and around inflated balloon rides. I figured a simple no would suffice as an answer, but apparently it wasn’t good enough for her. She wanted to know why not? Jeesh. Pushy aren’t we? I went on to discuss with her that I thought birthdays were more meaningful when shared with a few close family members and that the whole ‘party’ experience wasn’t necessary. Once again, I got the whole “you’re ripping off your child” lecture. I couldn’t help but to roll my eyes and walk away.  If and whenever my son actually asks for a party, I’ll gladly throw him one, but until then, I’m not going to push the issue. So this year for his 10th birthday, cake and ice cream will be shared between 3 people and his new dog that he requested as a gift.

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