Stick a fork in me. I am DONE.

I just spent 3 hours at a 5 year old’s birthday party, and I would like to make a confession. I hate birthday parties. I hate planning them. I hate going to them. (To be clear, I’m talking about kid parties, but you probably got that.) I do realize this is totally not about me. My son had a blast, and to be fair, it was a fantastic party at the science museum. They had breakfast, did some coloring, and then saw the butterfly exhibit. After that, a discussion of vertebrates and invertebrates where the kids got to touch a turtle, a salamander, a ferret, and see a scorpion light up under a blacklight. And then cake. So yeah. Pretty cool. Thanks kid parents! Now you’ve upped the ante and I’m totally stressed about MY kid’s 5th birthday party. Did I mention I hate planning parties?

Due to work scenarios, I am often the parent that goes to birthday parties. Now, remember, I have two kids. One is a fairly mellow, rules-following, people-pleasing 4.5 year old, and the other is the rules-don’t-apply-to-me, bull-in-a-china-shop almost-two-year old. Elliott, the 4 year old, wants me to sit with him and participate with him in the crafts or activities that are happening. Townes, the 2 year old wants to be running headlong in the other direction to get into something he should probably not be getting into. Then there is me. Caught in the middle, trying to please one kid, and keep the other from killing himself, while simultaneously trying to connect with the parents because I’m new-ish to this city and I’m trying to make and nurture new friendships. Juggling act.

Parties in someones home are ideal for me, although admittedly maybe not as fun for the kids. I like a finite space. Museums have twists and turns and stairs and corridors that Townes will surely want to explore and can disappear down one in the blink of an eye. That kid is FAST. Although in any setting, he will find a way to keep me on my toes, whether its grabbing a water bottle and tipping it all over himself, or pushing a chair up to the counter and attempting to get into the birthday cake. Oh yeah–and I was in the middle of a conversation with that mom about their summer vacation plans and I just freaking ghosted her, and probably will not see her again until next birthday party.

I find myself saying sorry a lot at birthday parties. Sorry to Elliott, who thought I had abandoned him as I raced around the corner to find Townes. Sorry to the host that Townes just destroyed the pipecleaner bracelet station, sorry to some parent that I had to turn and bolt in the middle of our conversation.

Birthday parties we’ve hosted up to this point pretty low key. Invite the kids over to our house to run around and be crazy, maybe color or run through the sprinkler or have a mini baseball game in the backyard. Hot dogs and cupcakes, beer for the parents. Basta cosi. But I feel like 5 is the gateway to the other side. Renting rooms, booking kid gyms, having cooking classes. My laissez faire party planning ain’t going to cut it anymore.

End of the party! Time for party favors! Guess how I feel about party favors? UGH. Bags of tiny things that the 2 year old will want to grab and possibly eat, and the 4 year old will be enamored with for 15 minutes then will get scattered to the winds in my house. Cheap trinkets that I will surreptitiously round up and dispose of as soon as I’m sure Elliott has forgotten about them. And we all do it, because we all do it. Its a vicious cycle. You gotta have party favors! Have a party with no favors? Unthinkable.

We take our gift bag and say our thank yous and head for the door. Lather, rinse, and repeat. We have another birthday party tomorrow.

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