What's wrong with gift bags?

The Boy went to a birthday party for one of his daycare buddies yesterday afternoon, and he came home with a great gift bag filled with candy, and some fun little toys that he seems to enjoy. He got home and asked for some of the candy, but as I knew he’d just eaten cake, ice cream, and some M&Ms, I told him no (oh and it was already 7:45 PM, when his bed time is 8 PM). He accepted the no, and played with the toys in the gift bag for a while (while trying his best to keep The Girl away from his loot). He went to bed pretty easily, insisting that he hold onto his new beloved sticky monkey glow in the dark cheapie toy (the kind of toy that when balled up in your hand and thrown against a wall, will stick for a moment only to slowly roll down the wall). He even called down to me an hour later because he had dropped said monkey under his bed, and needed it in order to sleep. Whatever, at least he went back to sleep. He was still clutching the monkey this morning, and I had to pry it out of his hands when I dropped him off at daycare, promising him that he would get it back later in the day.

The whole thing made me think of something I read on cribsheet a while back. They pointed out a recently launched website created by parents who are concerned about the rampant craziness surrounding kids’ birthday parties. I looked at the site (Birthday’s without pressure) for a moment and went on with my day. Why do we give gift bags at birthday parties? I wouldn’t say that I am even opposed to them. Kids like them. I could be happier if they didn’t come with a big ol’ pile of sugar in them, but it isn’t like the Pop Tarts I feed the kids for breakfast are healthy so my standards are already sufficiently low. At The Boy’s 3rd birthday party shin dig we were guilty of giving out gift bags too, and honestly they worked quite well to distract the kids while The Boy was opening his mound of presents. I did stress for a little too long about what exactly to put in the gift bags though, and can see how some parents wouldn’t want that. I guess because my kids are still so young we haven’t really had to deal with too much of this. I’m sure in a few years I will be deadly opposed to gift bags, and commercialized parties or I will more likely just sell out and go along with the trend.

The Boy is only 3.5, and has already gone to two birthday parties at Chuck E Cheese, and one swimming pool party (I hope to not subject other parents to that for a while, I’m still a little irritated that it meant I had to don a swimsuit). I’m sure as he gets older we will become more and more familiar with all birthday party venues in our area. We’ve had all of our kids’ parties at our own humble abode, but honestly it is a huge pain in the ass to have to clean your entire house, cook, oversee the party, and find ways to entertain a bunch of preschoolers (even when their parents are present!) for even 2 hours. I found myself searching for Non-Chuck E Cheese party options just a few weeks ago, and our next kid birthday isn’t until May.

There has to be some nicer balance between making your child be the one kid who doesn’t get birthday presents from friends, and having such a huge production for each and every birthday that he or she feels entitled to more each year. I’d wager that these early birthdays set the stage for what is to come when the kids have their own opinions. I guess that means we need to under perform, so they have low expectations.

I don't know, the whole fact that there is a dot org website set up to tell me how horrible birthday parties are, makes me pay less attention to the whole thing. Soon not only will Moms be quietly judging other Moms for breastfeeding or formula feeding, landfill space occupying disposable diapers or cloth dipes, staying at home or working outside the home, they will have to worry about the birthday party being enough but not too much. Gads, this parenting thing is like junior high all over again, and we wonder why kids are such asshats to each other in school!

1 comment:

Meena said...

Good points, my dear! I like planning something for the kids that they will enjoy, but I don't go crazy. I thought about the trend of saying "no gifts" on the invite for the bday kid - but why deprive my kid of something they enjoy so much? Isn't that part of the fun of bdays? Heck, I enjoy getting gifts! I mean to each their own (I try to convince myself), but personally, I'd like to relax and not take everything so gosh darned seriously!