No Big Birthday Parties for you little munchkin, here is why :
During one of my office lunch discussions, one of the most heated conversations happened around this topic – Do we really need “Big Birthday Parties” for our kids? Are grand parties a result of peer pressure? Or is the idiot box which runs unending Indian drama responsible for this wave of change?
Interesting set of questions and each one does have some kernel of truth too. A quick scan on our social media accounts does validate these points. It is obvious for any parent to think about doing something special to celebrate their offspring’s milestone. The actual celebration would vary from person to person and for each their own.
The conversation took me down the memory lane when I as a kid used to look forward for my birthdays and what was the REAL fun associated with it for ME? I came from a God-fearing, South-Indian middle-class family. My parents used to ask me in advance what I wished for my birthday, a small window of opportunity for a wish of mine to come true. I understood the concept of budget pretty late in life, but I do remember my parents telling me that a specific item that I wished for would be difficult for them to get. My father and I used to make a list of items that we would require on my D-Day – a cake, a dress or two, a gift, my friend list for the party, the specific candy that I plan to distribute at school and home (Melody, Mango Bite or Kisme). My mother, who for me is a culinary goddess would tell me in advance regarding the delicacies she planned to churn out from her kitchen – Pal payasam, Unniyappams, acchappams etc. We used to discuss if any of the items needed to be added or crossed out, due to time constraints or money constraints. All this said and done, my father would tell me the approximate spend associated with this. And getting a NO, for a requested item was absolutely fine, provided it’s backed-up with good reasoning. My birthday party used to be more like a small gathering, where my friends would join me along with our close family members and we all used to spend some time together. As a grown up adult, today when I look back I feel it’s the sense of togetherness that made my day special. I liked the part of being heard by my parents at that age. Years have passed, but the essence of those memories remains intact.
Back to the present I see parents going for theme parties: Minions theme, Disney princess theme, Ninja Turtles theme etc. hiring party planners to throw a grand bash, multi-layered designer cakes, designing an entire party table and custom designed return gifts. I see my Facebook page flooded with birthday photo shoots and party specials. This is all really exciting, innovative and extravagant (for me). However, the point to be noted is that all this comes with a cost. As a parent, it’s not just a celebration for us (me and my partner); my actions create a benchmark in my kid’s mind. My kid is a 3 year old toddler now, and I notice how often I am being observed by him. As of now, we never had a big birthday bash for him. However, we make sure that each of his birthdays is special and he enjoys it the most. I have always looked up to a party that could be organized by us (parents) and a spend that doesn’t jolt my savings.
My thinking is definitely driven by my family roots and foundation, which gives me a constant reminder on my existence and values. Translated to his level, we do encourage letting him have a toy of his choice. However, we also let him understand our NO; it is not easy but still we do. With my fair understanding of his taste buds, his likes and dislikes, we prepare him his favorite pasta (broccoli in white sauce), charkara paysam, his lemon lollipop, a chocolate cake and have friendly faces around who know him well. Even with this minor preparation, the object that catches his attention could be a cardboard box or the noise of the wrapping paper. As of now, all my kid wants from us is our time and attention, which we plan to give him abundantly.
I am not against the idea of having a big bash; just that it doesn’t make sense to ME. I would rather save that money and use it for a short trip to enjoy a holiday on a beach, as we love doing that together. Or put that money away to do something good. Importantly, I do not enjoy a big gathering and nor do I enjoy putting my personal life on social media. Probably, I am an introvert or I just like respecting my family’s privacy. As of now, my kid is too small but someday later, he would have a voice and choice of his own. Putting too much information regarding him without his consent on a social platform does make me a bit wary.
Even as I say this, I am concerned on - how much is too much, for my kid, probably a good food for thought for my next blog.
Do share your thoughts.