I feel like I entered into this whole parenting journey with a bit of a competitive advantage. I started babysitting at age 12, where I quickly earned a reputation as a bit of a kid whisperer with a seemingly natural ability to put children at ease and inspire confidence and trust in even the most fretful mother. I was a preschool teacher in charge of a group of fifteen 2 and 3 year olds for five years before I even thought of having a child of my own. By the time I became a parent I had earned a masters degree in Applied Psychology elected courses such as The Psychology of Parenthood, and The Education of Infants and Toddlers. I interned at a renown New York City parent counselling center where I had the opportunity to sit in on seminars attended by frazzled and broken parents desperately seeking professional help in their struggles with Infant Sleep, and Discipline and Limit Setting. You might think that I was well positioned, relatively speaking, to avoid many of the common mistakes and struggles so many new parents face, and yet, here I sit wondering how I did not see my way around one fairly obvious parental pitfall. The Kid Birthday Party. If only there had been a seminar entitled Kid Birthday Parties: Strategies for Avoidance, I might not be in the position I know find myself with these kid birthday party expectations that come up, you know, annually.
I made the mistake when Scarlett turned one of throwing a big party with balloons and food and cupcakes and presents and like 50 people...So naturally, when she turned 2 I threw a party again, a barbecue, with balloons and cake and presents, there may have even been a piñata, and a whole bunch of people. When Scarlett turned 4, I ramped it up a bit more and added a theme! It was an alphabet party, where I made a ridiculously elaborate ABC fondant covered layer cake, and hung hand cut letters from fishing line on the branches of a tree in our back yard. I even invented a game, Pin the Tail on the Letter I, which truthfully was kind of lame, and of course, there was a piñata. Then there was the Breakfast "Pajama Party", the Camping Party... and I'm only now realizing that this big homemade birthday party thing is just going to go on and on and on infinity, which might be fine if I only had one kid, but I don't I have THREE kids (2 of whom have birthdays within 8 days of one another) and how did I ever not see that this pattern is totally NOT sustainable or scalable? But now Scarlett has come to expect a big, fun birthday party, with a theme and lots of DIY details, and she's excited and totally involved in the planning, and she loves it and I have to keep it going. The younger kids have very simple birthday celebrations attended by grandparents and close family, as it really should be. I figure I can keep that up, until they older and start wondering why they are getting shorted on the B-day front, and I have to start dealing with claims of You love her more!!! SO Here is my pro-tip for new mom's. DO NOT make my rookie mistake. If you plan to have more that 2 kids, go easy on the birthday expectations from the start, in fact, just set a low bar across the board, you won't regret it.
It's too late for me, I cannot be saved. I'm already too far down this road, so I might as well share the details from Scarlett's Dinosaur Birthday Party, which, of course, was fun and fabulous and I'm so glad I made the effort...Scarlett came up with the theme, and with no prompting from me, drafted a guest list, a menu, and a schedule of activities months in advance of her birthday (no idea where she gets it). All I had to do was bring her vision to light. She wanted a mix of boys and girls from her class (I asked her to keep it to 8 kids total). She thought it would be SUPER fun to serve dinosaur kale chips as part of the meal, and I made carnivore or herbivore sandwiches, and a Dinosaur melon head fruit bowl (Fruitisaurus?) to round things out as I was pretty sure Kale might not fly with most of the herd. Scarlett wanted to play dinosaur tag, and I suggested we have a dinosaur egg hunt which would allow me to unload all of the empty Easter eggs that have accumulated over the years. We finished it off with a Dinosaur Egg Ice Cream Bombe. The party was held at a nearby park, so when the eating and hunting were over I just set them loose to play on the playground. Done!
If this were a proper DIY party blog I would offer tutorials and recipes, but it is not it is just me trying to capture a special moment in my girl's life, and I have got to get back to packing for our big move, so here are some photos of the event. That's all I got. Happy Birthday to the girl who made me a mom (rookie mistakes and all).
Frezer paper stencils for party favor T-shirts:
Dino Egg Ice Cream Bombe
The finished party favor T-shirts
Playground with her BFF (Incidentally, the only other Kale lover - they totally get each other)
The birthday girl, officially 7!