Kids' Birthday Parties Are...For the Kids?

I have three grandchildren born in April. That’s three opportunities this month to celebrate. The question remains, how much do kids appreciate the parties we adults throw for them? For them or for us?

I’ve been invited to first birthdays in backyards with inflatable, wading pools and rocks to hold down the skittering napkins and plates. The kids had a ball and the cake was great. I’ve attended toddler parties in restaurants where adults far out-numbered the kids. What kids were there were hard to contain…and the cake was great. I’ve been to commercial birthday venues with endless places for kids to run and not enough places for adults to sit. The kids wore themselves out and never got to the cake. Too bad for them...the cake was great. Each party was a success.

It’s not a new phenomenon that kids’ parties have become showcases for their parents’ inventiveness. It’s not new that parties are held outside the home. I threw our daughter costume themed parties, always at home. Our son preferred playgrounds or museums or any place different than his everyday digs. But, when they’re little, do they really care?

Hats off to my children. They haven’t overwhelmed their infants and toddlers with too many gifts, too many people, too many lights, too much music. The babies have been perfectly content to lick frosting and play with wrapping paper (usually a much bigger hit than whatever was inside). But, now some of my grandkids aren’t babies any more. Do they want something more elaborate – or do we?

When I was young, the centerpiece of my birthday party was always my Aunt Ida’s buttermilk chocolate cake with mint icing and shaved chocolate on top. I really didn’t care where the party was as long as the cake was great. I suspect my grandchildren feel the same way.