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When it’s not his party

March 15, 2010

Over the weekend: two birthday parties (both for little boys named Aidan, a sweet name that must be the Joshua of my son’s generation). Plenty of cake and chicken nuggets and  “mine” and “please” and “NO MIIIIIINE!”

Last weekend, in anticipation of another party and potential meltdown, I bought two balloons: one for Fern, whose first birthday we were celebrating, and one for Jack, whose cooperation I was hoping for. It was a small-scale version of the way my siblings and I celebrated birthdays as small children, with presents all around. My aunt, uncle and grandparents sent a great big box full of wrapped gifts – most for the kid blowing out the candles, one or two for each sibling, and at least one marked “for Everyone.”

That was lucky for us and for our parents. The charm of the balloon was lucky for me and for Jack — but it wouldn’t have stood a chance against the mini-four wheeler he wanted to commandeer at a party last month, and I knew the stakes would be higher at the Aidans’ (2 years and 4 years) parties.

(I wonder when Sharing will make its appearance?)

In January we celebrated the start of our friend Hayden’s third year and observed what I think is a genius new trend in toddler birthday presents: He opened them at home, after the party. The only things Jack had a chance to commandeer were a couple of juice boxes that he didn’t realize weren’t his.

I intend to feature a request for “no gifts please” prominently on his party invitations. Instead, I might ask his pals to bring a ball or some other toy easy to share and take back. Of course, those plans are contingent upon us hosting a birthday party, which – given that he is just two and we are still living with my mother while working on our house – is not 100 percent likely.

At the 4-year0ld Aidan’s party on Saturday, most of the under-seven partygoers couldn’t be bothered to leave the birthday boy’s well-stocked room to watch him open presents, so the toy tug-of-war was postponed until cake and ice cream were served. Aidan had unwrapped an army of big action figures and several toy guns with moving parts, so it was for several reasons that I thanked my lucky stars that Jack surrenders so quickly and easily to bigger kids.

He ended up with a pile of magnetic hematite stones and an eight-year-old girl who was also indifferent to Iron Man play sets. (Lucky again.)

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2010 6:13 pm

    I always dread the present opening at birthday parties… it’s so hard for them to learn the concept. Fynn’s getting to the point where it’s easier, but Paige… oh my… it’s scary! 🙂
    I think your idea is lovely!

  2. March 16, 2010 12:54 am

    Sounds fun! We will still get Master Jack a gift though… he did get Hayden one, right? Although he has yet to receive it, I know it exists!

  3. Elizabeth permalink
    March 16, 2010 2:39 am

    He did great on Friday night! I will be interested to hear what you decide about having a party. You know I’ve sworn it off for this year, but after all the fun of Friday night, I’m reconsidering. Uh oh. 🙂

  4. March 16, 2010 7:51 pm

    I agree with no present opening at birthday parties 100%. At least until the kids are 5. At LEAST. When they are little it all becomes tears. And they don’t really get it anyway. And you are setting the rules. They are just there to have fun with their friends. Well, it worked for US. That’s all I can say.

    We open gifts when we are with family, but if it’s surrounded by 15 other 3-year-olds who all want to say MINE, um, no thanks, I’ll pass.

  5. Sister permalink
    March 18, 2010 12:21 pm

    I vote yes for having a birthday party. And I vote we have it the Saturday before his birthday.

  6. March 18, 2010 7:11 pm

    Another vote here for the no opening presents in front of guests idea. Big Boy is 2 1/2 and his problem is that he doesn’t quite get that the present he brings to the birthday kid is not still his when it’s time to go home. As Sarah said, tears all around.

    When he turns three in September, I’m going to follow your lead with the “no gifts please” request. My boys are the only grandchildren on both sides of the family so they’re not exactly deprived when it comes to presents.

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