This was the birthday party to end all birthday parties. Not that it was some epic affair by any means. It was a fairly pedestrian, Pokémon-themed event, although there was a pretty cool animal presentation by a Safari guide. No, it was the birthday party that literally made me not want to throw birthday parties anymore. As I was stuffing stupid goody bags with useless plastic objects and noisemakers, things I knew parents hated and immediately threw away because I hated them and immediately threw them away, I was overcome with disgust. Why were we participating in this senseless ritual just because other people did? How awful was it to be contributing to landfill waste and environmental pollution just to entertain a bunch of 7-year-olds for a split second? Was my son even going to know or remember any of these kids after elementary school? The party was supposed to last three hours and after an hour in the company of over a dozen loud, rambunctious boys, I was counting down the minutes until they left. I vowed never to assemble another stupid goody bag again.
My introverted tendencies already hamper my kids’ social life. I can’t be bothered with play dates and we rarely do kid-centric activities. Kid stuff bores me, and our parenting philosophy is that kids should conform to adult preferences and not the other way around. We’re not total jerks, though. So we came up with the idea of offering the kids a choice each year for their birthday: a party or a trip. The thing is, we know how to make traveling so fun that it’s not really a fair competition. If my kid picks a stupid Pokémon party over a Hawaiian vacation next year then I have not raised him right.