My kids are 12 and 8 and over the last eight years or so, I’m pretty sure between the two of them, they have been invited to and attended close to 50 birthday parties of classmates.
In fact, I’m sure that number is a low estimate but for argument’s sake, let’s make it 50. Now of those 50 parties, how many do you think I have attended and how many do you think my husband has attended? Figure out the answer any way you’d like, percentages, decimal, fractions…whatever floats your boat. Got an estimate? Did you write it down? Good.
If you answered 100% for Mom and 0% for Dad, you’d be correct! Gold star! Yah!!!!!
I have been to every sugar infused, headache inducing, whine fest my kids have ever gone to. Every. Single. One.
When I was a naive new mother, I looked forward to birthday parties.
When my oldest got his first birthday party invitation on cute little race car card stock in kindergarten, I said “Awwww” how cute…can’t wait! When the second and third and fourth followed shortly after, I wondered how on earth we would afford it, but still, thrilled that my child had this opportunity outside of school to interact with his peers. In fact, I looked forward to being able to socialize with parents outside of the school environment. It was going to be a fun Saturday afternoon.
First off, the party was a bowling alley which is fine in itself. But add a class (yes, the entire class) of five and six year olds (some let loose without parental supervision) hopped up on goodie bag candy and permission to throw heavy balls at things and you have a recipe for disaster.
The poor mother of the birthday child looked like her hair was being pulled out by its roots as she dashed all over the place, keeping kids in line and making sure everyone had the right meal and the peanut allergic kid didn’t go near the cake she had made with peanut oil not knowing that the kid was allergic to peanuts. I didn’t want to bother her, so I glanced around to see who else I could pass the time speaking to.
You have a variety of parents at these parties, as I soon came to learn.
First off, you have “the clique”; mothers who have known each other for YEARS (sometimes because they have older children that have been in school together). These mothers will huddle together with their Starbucks, laughing and whispering among themselves. They will see the other parents scattered throughout the birthday party and ignore them completely. God forbid you should try to join in on the conversation or even ask them a question, they will glare at you like you are a complete moron. (I’d also like to point out if you encounter any of these moms on their OWN, they will latch onto you like a leech and pretend they are your best friend).
At every birthday party there’s Fun Mom who is literally on floor with the kids, thoroughly enjoying the birthday party. I mean, she’s REALLY into it. Maybe she likes to bowl or roller skate or play laser tag, but I wish she would stop because she’s making the rest of us look like the bad mommies we are, ignoring our children.
Nearby this mother is usually Photo Mom, the one snapping fifty million pictures of the kids in various poses, completely missing the point that this is a PARTY and the kids are supposed to be having FUN, not creating collages of them pretending to have fun. This mom is also present at all baby and wedding showers, stopping the mother to be/ bride after she opens every gift and getting a cheesy picture. She is singlehandedly responsible for making these showers four hours long. Fortunately, they stopped opening gifts at kids birthday parties years ago, foiling her attempts to extend the birthday party to a day and a half.
She actually better than Bragging Mom who catches your ear to tell you every wonderful thing her kid has done in the last month. If she could, she would probably gush about the fact her kid has regular, solidly formed bowel movements every day at 4pm. This is the mom whose kid will never do any wrong and it makes me nauseous because every time I’ve met the kid, he/she is a little $hit.
Then, you have Weirdo Mom, the one who brought her knitting and insists on trying to draw you into a conversation on the dangers of commercially manufactured shampoo. She wants you to join her group the next time they picket the styrofoam cup manufacturing plant. The piece of lint on your shirt suddenly becomes fascinating.
Next to her is Bored Mom, the one looking at her phone every thirty seconds in desperate hopes that something exciting has popped up on the screen since the last time she looked. She is avoiding human contact as best as she possibly can, sometimes fake writing a text message so that she doesn’t have to talk to the person who is approaching her with their mouth opened to speak. Oh wait…that’s ME.
I must admit, that has become me lately, but mostly to avoid our next guest…Lone Dad.
Oh yeah. There’s always one and quite honestly, he should stick to talking to Weirdo Mom. But usually, I’m his lucky target as he yammers on about gardening or football or dry wall or something manly. Even if I care about the subject or Lone Dad is actually interesting, I really, really don’t want to talk to him.
Because when you’re talking to lone dad, the “clique” will eye you up like you’re planning on dragging the guy to the back of the room and making out with him. And you can be certain they will report it to his wife.
Even more amazingly, even if there is someone that I know at the birthday party and whose company I enjoy, for some reason, sitting at glow in the dark mini golf or Chuck E. Cheese renders me unable to carry out a coherent conversation. The noise level is too high or the lights are blinking, enticing me into a seizure.
So I will usually sit for the excruciating long one and a half to two hours staring at a book or my iPad, desperately wishing I was anywhere but the birthday party.
Until it is time for us to depart with the fake smiles plastered on our face as my child clutches the goodie bag full of candy bought in bulk and plastic crap that will break before we even get home and remain under my backseat until summer.
In the next few weeks we have three birthday parties, all on Sundays, my day of rest. I begged the hubby to go, in exchange for a variety of favors (wink, wink). He wouldn’t bite. I’ve offered the kids money not to go. I’ve even considered hiding the invitations. But nothing works.
So if you see me at one of those parties, just know, it probably isn’t coffee in that Starbucks cup and I’m not sharing. Go get your own.