Friday, May 9, 2008

I COME BEARING GIFTS

I have discovered a slightly passive-aggressive side to myself that I never knew existed. What has brought on this behavior, you might ask? It has to do with seven year olds….more specifically, the parents of seven year olds.

First grade seems to be the age of the whole class birthday party. Maggie has received at least eight or nine invitations to birthday parties this year that have involved her entire class. She herself had a whole class birthday party at McDonald’s back in November. However, the one caveat I had when she requested a whole class party was that I was not going to allow her fellow classmates to come bearing gifts. If she wanted a party, it was going to be a “let’s get together and have fun” celebration, not a “let’s get together and bring the birthday girl a whole bunch of crap she doesn’t need” celebration. I wanted the focus to be on the kids playing and having fun - - not on sitting around and watching Maggie open presents.

I explained to Maggie that I didn’t want the other kids in her class to feel an obligation to bring a present, as though that was their admission ticket to get into the party. I explained that I didn’t want the kids to feel that had to spend money in order to celebrate her birthday with her. She seemed to understand this concept and be very much ok with it. I told Chris that I hoped that other parents would get her invitation that read in bold letters, “NO GIFTS PLEASE” and be inclined to follow suit. If nothing else, I was hoping that I could shame them into doing the same for their kids birthday parties. I was throwing down the birthday party gauntlet.

I suppose I highly overestimated the amount of shame felt by others, because only one other family has followed suit with my “NO GIFTS PLEASE” example. Maggie received an invitation to a birthday party this coming Saturday for a boy in her class that is being held at the Children’s Museum. Of course, I was disappointed when I saw that it failed to include “NO GIFTS PLEASE.” It’s not the money - - really…though going to eight or nine birthday parties for classmates at $10 a pop for a gift can indeed add up. (She actually hasn’t attended all of them due to other obligations….but still.)

Now I must explain where the passive-aggressive part comes in to this scenario. My way of making up for being required to purchase my kid's admission to the party is by purchasing a birthday gift that the kid will absolutely love and the parents will hate. For the last party Maggie went to, I bought the birthday girl Play-Doh, fingernail polish, and a Bratz lipstick. For this party, I bought the birthday boy a container of colored slime and an egg that you put in water and when it dissolves, there are tiny little bones of a dinosaur that you have to put together to make a 3-D model. I really thought of doing worse - - I scanned the arts and crafts aisle for paints, but ultimately decided to skip it since I would have to buy paint and paper, which would have ended up getting to be more than I wanted to spend.

I know, I know…I am so immature, right? My hope is that through my clever use of creative birthday gift selection, I can allow these parents to see the error of their ways and encourage them to include those three all-important words on their kid’s next birthday announcement, “NO GIFTS PLEASE!”

5 comments:

Karen R said...

awesome!
will you be my mommy?

kristin said...

I so agree with you on this one. I've witnessed some nieces on Dan's side receive 25+ gifts at a party and her mom was writing them all down like you do at a shower. I vowed then and there, we'd be doing something differently. That child went home with so much crap!

Karen R said...

a friend of mine put a line on her 3-year-old daughter's invitations about "Please do not bring gifts; however, if you feel the need to gift, please get her a book".

Julianne said...

I have mixed emotions about this topic because one of my kid's favorite part of a birthday party, regardless of the venue, is watching the birthday child open their presents. My kids love it, especially when they get to the present that they brought. So, I have to say, I'm still a present supporter. Do I like all of the worthless crap they come home with? NO! My solution is to scale down the number of kids invited to the party.

I do, however, have a pet peeve that is a growing trend on the birthday party circuit. I have been to a couple parties where we brought gifts but the child did not open them at the party. Talk about a slap in the face! My kids were crushed and kept asking, "When is ___ going to open his present from us?" I was ticked off that I dropped $9.99 on something and didn't even get to see a reaction. Come on!

Wyn Benvuite said...

This is hilarious! I feel the same way!