The Birthday Bargaining Table


I admit it. I peaked too soon. I came out of the gates too quickly. I’ve run out of gas; the novelty’s worn off; Elvis has left the building.


It is an interesting turn of events that the older my children get, the less grand their birthday parties become. I find it terribly ironic for all the effort, time, energy and extravagance I invested to make my kids’ early birthdays memorable, they wouldn’t remember any of it if I hadn’t taken pictures for proof.


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My baby girl will be eight this weekend. (And yes, she’s accepted that even when she’s turning 38, I will still call her my baby girl.)


After some extended negotiations we came up with a birthday celebration that will meet both our needs and expectations. Whitney will have a sleep-over party with a few of her closest friends and a little roller skating thrown in at a nearby rink. Mommy and Daddy get credit for making turning eight seem to be the greatest accomplishment ever (as quickly and painlessly as possible).


It didn’t always used to be so simple.


Back in the day, I threw pre-school parties so over the top, three year-old Whitney once said, “It’s not your birthday until there’s a big, giant slide in the back yard.”


Now, I try to convince my children how much fun only four friends can be for a sleep-over party: “It is so cool to just chill over a bowl of popcorn and a movie before calling it a night – that’s what I did when I turned nine! And if you were the first one asleep and the last one up – then you were totally cool.”


Of course my son, Logan, wasn’t convinced of this until I threw in the bargaining chip of taking them to RPM Racing first. For Whitney it was night skating at King’s Skate. I got her to settle for afternoon skating if I made her favorite labor intensive meal of fried calamari. Deal. And everyone’s out by 10 a.m. if Daddy fries bacon to go with the pancakes. Done.


So, gone are the days of reserving inflatable monstrosities months in advance; ordering 50 of everything in the theme pages of the Birthday Express catalog; organizing family assembly lines to work through the night putting together goodie-bags; pizza boxes stacked so high, if they fell on a kid you’d need a search and rescue dog to find them; Costco cakes so big they could be used as an air-craft carrier.


I have a feeling this current birthday celebration agreement will be short lived though. I’m thinking when the pre-teen years hit we’ll be going back to the bargaining table to renegotiate the definition of Way Cool Birthday Celebration.


I just hope co-ed pool parties are concessions kept off the table for at least five more years.

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