Birthdays, birthdays, and more birthdays. As a parent of a young child, it seems like there’s a never-ending slew of birthday parties to attend. My son is fortunate to be pretty well liked among the children at his school and among my friend’s kids. So it really is a blessing that we are so often invited to these events. Yes, I did say events. This is Beverly Hills after all. It tends to not be a simple cake and ice cream situation. Many are full-blown extravaganzas, his own birthday, albeit at our home and not outrageous, was included in a national website and full of those typical Pinterest “pin”-able items. I love a good theme party; I always wanted one as a kid but never had one so now I go all Toddlers and Tiaras crazy mom on themes for him, but never to the extent that I have witnessed. Good thing we are not showering in diamonds daily otherwise I fear that I too might rent out a giant venue for a sixth birthday.
By this point, an outsider might start to scratch the surface on how obnoxiously fun these kids parties can be. We and others often include adult beverages to keep the parents smiling and entertainment to keep sticky fingers off of said parents, at least for a little while. Gift bags are more like swag bags from kids choice awards parties and everything has a touch of class at least compared to what I remember.
The differences do not end there. It is always a dance one plays when choosing the correct gift for the birthday child. How well does your child know them? How well do you know the parents? Are they the kind to calculate what you paid on said gift? Do you care (in case they do calculate) if they will think it is “enough?” For a child who as everything, what can you get other than a limited edition real life zebra, bred specifically for this season…. and could this child already have pre-ordered that zebra?
When trying to crack this insurmountable code, I always contact the parent of the child to ask what they’re into. I am not up on what is hip, cool or useful for the age four to seven bunch. After that, I kid you not, I start researching online. I tend to want to get something within the realm of the interest of the child but more obscure than the typical items found in stores. That makes the possibility of a duplicate gift less likely. After that, I bring my son into the equation. (I am incredible at making an easy thing far too difficult by the way.) My sweet boy usually needs a bit of a push to help decide what to get for someone else since he is more interested in what he can get for himself.
This last attempt was to find the perfect gift for his best girl, his sometimes “girlfriend” (as much of a girlfriend as you can have in kindergarten anyway.) He adores her and the feeling is mutual but that being said he had absolutely no interest in choosing between Barbies or other pink and glittery items. After forcing him to look through a few Internet pages, he found the “perfect” gift. It was one of those Mega McMansions, plus add on jacuzzi and pool that Barbie seems to have a plethora of somehow. (Oh the first world problems that poor Barbie must suffer!)
My son calls me into the office, to announce I need to pay for the gift that he found. Proud and content with his decision his face immediately changed when he heard me blurt out, “No way!!” His pride and happiness melted as I crushed his research, so I explained, “Honey, that’s very sweet of you and it’s beautiful, but we don’t even buy you $250 presents.”
He looked at me with a small frown forming and slowly exhaled, and with sadness in each word stated, “but she will really like this. I know she would play with it all the time and her sisters could play too since it’s really big.” My heart sank then, feeling like I crushed his dream when I noticed a smirk appear across his face. He fled the office immediately like a gale force wind into his bedroom. When he came back I started to smile, knowing his intention. He brought back his piggy bank and said, “will this be enough Mama? I don’t need it and I really think she would like the Barbie house more. You want us to donate money and gifts to people right?”
Right then my heart and mind were playing tug of war. How do I teach him that sometimes you don’t give your all to a person? It made me think of the future and wanting to keep him so sweet and thoughtful but at the same time I do not want him to be a pushover especially when dealing with the opposite sex. I never want him to be the sucker that falls head over heels in love and does any and everything for a girl who may or may not appreciate it. While juggling those things, I have to add in the delicate glass ball to juggle about differentiating need versus want. I want him to be generous to less fortunate people. He should want to help the needy but not forget about himself at the same time.
After having about seventy-six thoughts fumble through my brain, I decided to just ask him for a back up choice. I suggested he find something that would be more connected to him, as it would be more special. Luckily they do not make a Star Wars Barbie planet, because I know that he would gravitate towards that. He saw a golf cart with a Barbie sister that actually looked like his friend. Since he had just tried golf for the first time recently, it was perfect… and we didn’t even have to open his piggy bank.