This past weekend we celebrated Kaiya’s 6th birthday with a delightfully fun party at the house of her mom and dad. Kaiya’s Kounty Fair, they dubbed it. There were games and prizes and every kind of fun food you would imagine there would be at a county fair. Lots of work for mom and dad, but a great result.
Every weekend, at least one of my grandkids is going to a birthday party for someone or other. Cousins, school friends, church friends, every age, gender and ethnic background. Lots of birthday parties. Monkey Business, Skate City, Jump Street, Water World, Chuck E. Cheese, multiple other venues.
Somewhere in a photo box far, far away, there is a picture of my sister Jennifer’s first birthday party. The gathering consisted of Bec and me and two neighbor girls who were about our age, and a birthday cake. I recall that the photo shows all of the girls dressed to the nines. I think I remember that photo so well because having a birthday party at all was unusual. Perhaps we all got a party on our first birthday.
I never cease to be amazed at how much time and energy is spent entertaining children on their birthday these days. It’s a wonder the Baby Boomer generation isn’t made up entirely of serial killers as a result of birthday party deprivation. Maybe others were luckier than I, but I simply don’t recall attending a lot of birthday parties as a kid. And I certainly don’t recall my mother and father providing a party every year for my siblings or me.
I’m truly not being critical. The parties are tons of fun for the kids. But it just seems like it’s another example of the planned activities and fun kids experience nowadays as opposed to the more spontaneous activities of Baby Boomers. The lack of spontaneity is no doubt a result of a more dangerous world in which kids can’t just be sent off in the morning to play with their friends all day, coming back home at the dinner bell.
We had dinner the other night with one of my friends who is the mother of 6-year-old twins. As usual, when she was leaving, we vowed to get together more often. We frequently promise to do just that, but don’t get around to it often enough.
“We are just so busy,” she said.
And man, ain’t that the truth. Well, actually there’s no “we” about it. I’m retired. I’m not that busy. But parents of young kids just seem to be running all of the time. And it’s even worse if both parents work outside the home, as is the case with my friend.
I would love to have the point of this blog post be that parents should just slow down (frankly, I would love this blog post to have a point at all!), but I don’t think it’s possible. There are only so many minutes in a day and only so many days in a week, and most parents do the best that they can.
Still, I would love my grandkids to experience a summer day in 1960 just to see what it feels like to be completely free.
On the other hand, perhaps if I had experienced more organized activities, I might have learned to roller skate and swim!