Feel free to call me "The Grinch Who Stole Kids' Joy," because I can honestly say, I hate kids' birthday parties. Well, I guess hate is a rather strong word; a word I reserve for more severe situations and ideologies, like bigotry and sexism. So, instead, let's just say I very much dislike these celebratory events. Most of my disdain for the parties comes from the fact that they perpetuate the worst type of gluttony and consumerism. And, somehow, kids' birthday parties have become yet another form of competition for parents. It's as if a group of moms and dads got together, discussed how little drama they have in their lives, and created an event that promotes judgment.
I've been to some extravagant birthday parties for children. I've seen petting zoos and inflatable castles. I've been to parties where parents rented out the entire space and hired professional decorators and photographers. I've eaten custom cakes that cost as much as a week's worth of groceries for my family of four. I've been to lavish pool parties and ruggedly hipster campsite parties. And, I must say, most of these parties are excessive and showy. I am not sure when birthday parties became a competitive sport, but somewhere along the lines the sweetness of celebrating our children got lost, and the message turned into "look at how amazing I am for throwing the best kid party ever."
Now, before you tell me all about how bitter I sound, I must admit that I throw these parties as well. I throw parties for my kids because, and I have to be completely honest, I don't want my kids to feel left out. I don't want them to be "the only kids who don't have a party." I falter under the pressures to throw a fun party for my kids, even though I can't say I love attending these parties. In fact, I dislike kids' parties for the following reasons:
Because They're Loud
I've recently realized I have a sensory issue when it comes to noise. When I was a teenager, and all of my friends were going to clubs, I remember always hating the dark and loud aspect of that scene. Until recently, I never paid much attention to this little quirk, and I figured "clubbing" just wasn't my scene. As an adult, however, and when I noticed loud noises and music give me intense anxiety, I realized I have a sensory issue.
Kids' parties, no matter how tame, are still way too loud and to the point that they make me feel super uneasy. Tuning it all out by having conversations with other adults is the only way I can get through a kid party without having a panic attack.
Because There's Way Too Much Sugar Involved
I know numerous studies suggest that sugar doesn't get children hyper, and while that may be scientifically proven, it is also scientifically proven that sugar is pretty much the root of all evil when it comes to weight gain and unhealthy eating habits. The more sugar one consumes, the more hungrier one is. Therefore, the overabundance of sugar at kids' birthdays is not only overly indulgent, it;s also unhealthy. And, honestly, have you seen what happens to 20 kids after they all eat cake? It's not pretty.
Because The Party Favors Are Ludicrous
Every year I say I will boycott the party favor and every year I fall prey to, "Well, everyone else gave out a favor, so I have to give one, too." But, I mean, c'mon people. How many useless trinkets does a child need? Not to mention, most of those go straight in the trash. Those things are a waste of money and resources. Even the "useful" ones, like crafts, are truly unnecessary. Why does a kid need a toy for attending a party. The party is the favor, you guys!
Because They're Expensive
I have thrown various types of parties for my kids, from a party at a park with just a few friends, to one at home with a couple of girlfriends, to one of those bouncy castle parties. Let me tell you, they are all expensive. Unless you order a few pizzas and cake at your house, you are paying hundreds of dollars for a party that lasts exactly two hours. Listen, I can't tell people how to spend their own money, but these parties are just wasteful.
Because They're Overindulgent
Maybe I am just used to parties I attend, but aren't most of these parties just too much? The decorations, the favors, the custom cakes, the balloons, the massive amounts of food, the toys; it's all a superficial display of how much parents love their children. I mean, it's not that bad, but it's still an ostentatious display.
Because They're Crawling With Germs
I'm not an intense germaphobe, but I do have my quirks, and any party full of a bunch of pre-schoolers is a germ factory operating and ran by bacteria and dirt. I mean, have you seen the carpets at these bouncy-castle places? I was recently at a place where I once had my 11th birthday and, let me tell you something, the carpet is the same, you guys. The carpet is the same.
Because They're Boring
Can we be real for a minute? Aren't kids' parties mind-numbingly boring? I don't mind going to the parties of my friends' kids', but those school parties where I don't know anyone are so dull. I mean, it's just that if you don't know any of the parents, these types of events seem even more isolating. They are definitely fun for the kids thought, so, I guess that's why we go. Yet another sacrifice we make for our children, I guess.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.