Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happy Birthday! Here, have a tetanus shot!

Years from now, my children will sit across from their therapists and sob about the fact they never experienced a childhood birthday party in their honor because their mother was too full of anxiety and ridiculous fears to ever have one for them.

(I.e., "No, we cannot have a birthday party because the dog might rip someone's face off." "But we don't HAVE a dog!" "Well, one might get loose in the neighborhood and attack someone coming to the party."
"No, we cannot have a birthday party because someone might jump off a swing and impale their foot with a nail." "But we don't HAVE a swingset!" "Well, it could happen if they just jumped high enough and everyone knows how impossible it is to control the jumping of children!")

My fears are absolutely justifiable since birthday parties have always been a quite traumatizing occasion for the McCarthy Children. Or perhaps just for me.

Case in Point:
At my 10th Birthday Party I jumped off the swing and impaled my bare foot on a large, rusty nail. I had to then wait until all my party guest friends were picked up so my Mom could haul my bleeding body into the Doctor's office for an emergency tetanus shot. Happy freaking birthday to me.

Second Case in Point:
At my brother's 10th Birthday Party our dog mauled the face off one of the party guests. It was awful to the umpteenth degree to the point that the only way I'll ever have a dog in my house around my children is if all its teeth are pulled and its nails and also if it never wears a leash or a chain because that can get tangled up around the neck of a small boy until their blue and unconscious. Ask my mother. She knows.

Maybe it's just 10th birthdays, but I'm not gambling on that. No parties here folks.

Actually, I did have a party for my now Teen Bean. It was the summer she turned 5 (or was it 6?) and I hosted this little mini-sized surprise birthday party for her. It was awesome. All these little midgets hid behind furniture and jumped out when she arrived... kids hide way better than grown-ups. And my hip, cool teen cousin was there to help out and entertain and run games and everyone absolutely loved her. Being the awesome Mom that I was back then, (and this was way before Pinterest so I had this idea all on my very own) I took pictures of my kid with each one of her guests to be used as a photo on the Thank You card she'd be sending out. I felt awesome!

And then it happened.

The drama.

Did I mention these were first graders? So why the hell was I suddenly dealing with a snotty brat who was all upset because my kid had her picture taken with the "cute boy" that only she could like and no one else was allowed to? Swear I just watched him picking his nose but apparently he was some sort of amazing catch that (because her mommy made her sit next to him for a full seven seconds while she snapped a photo for the stupid Thank You cards) resulted in tears and accusations and finger pointing against my daughter at her very own birthday party. I hate you! screamed from the top of this brat's lungs as my daughter spent the next hour trying to figure out what the hell happened and why everyone was awkwardly eating their cake in silence, God bless her soul.

Truth be told, I hate hosting parties for children because I hate not knowing how to handle the drama of other people's children. When my own kids start being idiots and causing drama I tell them to shut up and knock it off. I can point out that they're acting bizarre and the general public frowns on the bizarre but I can't say that to someone else's kid. If I could I'd tell that snotty kid that six is far too young to be that obsessive and jealous over a boy who clearly doesn't know you exist since now he's over by the tree belching the alphabet. I'd tell her that she's never going to have any true friends, just a whole lot of people scared to death she'll dump bleach all over them in a fit of rage.

But society expects the hosting parent to be all PC and calm and understanding and not scream at their bratty kid. And also we have to provide state-of-the-art goodie bags for all the attendees. What is with that? I'd like to meet the first person who decided we needed to reward guests for attending the party we invited them to. Your reward is being allowed at the party, nitwit! There's no goodie bags in baseball...uh, I mean, in birthdays.

Now, before you go all judgey-judgey, rest assured that I do, in fact, celebrate my children's birthdays. The first thing we do is have dinner as a family in the place of their choice and they open gifts from their siblings. So far I've been lucky and no one has asked to eat in Paris or Monaco, though I suspect the Teen will catch on shortly.

The next thing I do is plan a day where it's just me and the Birthday Kid. It's a requirement that they don a handmade shirt that I usually stayed up until midnight the night before making. I've tried purchasing a ready-made birthday shirt and it was hated. The rule, apparently, is that the shirt must be drawn by my own hands:

It should be noted, however, that the Teen did NOT want a birthday shirt for her 16th or 17th birthday. It hurt. 

The shirt is worn, enjoyed, and signed by friends, teachers and, surprisingly, a whole lot of strangers throughout the day. Then I wrap up clues that give hints about what we might be doing.

Clue #3:
"Here a piggy, there a piggy all line up and ready to go!"

Can you guess where we went and what we did?

I realize now I've totally created an expensive problem....
Yes, it was Dotter's birthday this past weekend. And her day was filled with such amazing things like getting a much desired $4 Gatorade water bottle (just like the college gymnasts use and the NFL players), enjoying a pedicure, and going to the mall to purchase a sweatshirt that will fit her during the upcoming cool weather. We even went and saw the movie Hotel Transylvania in 3D - which was totally fun and we ate way too much extra buttered popcorn which made me an incredibly happy woman.

They're not wild and crazy birthday celebrations, but it's one day - one full day - where it's just me and my kid. Talking, laughing, enjoying... just being. Personally, I think I'm the one who comes out on top each and every time. And the best part? No one gets a nail through their foot or their face ripped off.