These two weeks will see me busy coordinating two parties. One is on the 23rd and the other the 25th. They are just two days apart... It was wishful thinking that I need not do much for Caitlin's birthday party, the one on the 25th. Just when I came to terms with the idea of needing to get things moving for Caitlin's party, I got a call from her school's PTA committee member.
The school is celebrating Children's Day on the 23rd. Every year, parents of each class will be given the 'honour' to organise a party for the kids of their class. It seems that many parents (mothers) of Caitlin's class declined to be the class rep (to coordinate the party) citing various reasons. I personally think that some of the reasons are quite lame. If one wants and is willing to do something, one can actually work around things, tweak their routine a little temporarily. After all, how many man (or woman) hours do you need to just organise a small class party, and your child is also in the class? And the PTA is sponsoring RM20 per child so if the budget is managed well, parents don't even have to contribute a single sen to top up any extra costs. So, rant aside, the martyr in me agreed to become class rep...
Now I'm faced with the task of rounding up at least a few parents to work with me to get the food, party packs, set up/decorate the classroom, and organise games on that day. I've got the list of parents' names and contact numbers. The big question is how many would be willing to help. I'll find out once I make the calls, which I dread in fact, given the background notion that they're not too interested/willing.
As for Caitlin's birthday party, she has requested to invite her classmates. So this year, we're having the party at the arts studio where she learns capoeira. They host and organise such parties regularly. We'll be having a dance 'workshop' cum games party led by one of Caitlin's teachers who is an accomplished dance, yoga and capoeira instructor. I hope the turnout will be good as I think, "the more, the merrier". While this party is slightly beyond budget, I guess (and hope!)it's only a few more years we have to do this for our only child.
Children these days, especially in urban areas, have such grand birthday parties. I blame it on the parents. I feel modern day parents organise grand, lavish parties for the kids for the wrong reasons usually (this can be a separate discussion altogether). After a kid attends a few of such parties, she'll be asking her parents for a similar one for her next birthday.
These parties do not come cheap with hired clowns, balloon artists, magicians, puppeteers, a large buffet spread by hotel or caterer, party packs, hall rental etc. We've been to one where it was a theme party. The birthday child's (and siblings')costume was tailor-made. There was a clown cum magician, buffet spread and nice presents for participants (adults and children) for every game. The contents of the party packs had nice (but trivial, in my mind) items. The child's mother said she spent a few thousand ringgit on the party packs alone every year, and spends hours at the toy wholesaler's shop picking out the items. This is a mother who has more than one child, mind you, and I'm sure she does the same for all the other children of hers. They also hired a professional photographer and videographer.
To me, it's not whether you can afford it or not. The question is whether the child is able to appreciate the value of such an expensive party. At the end of the day, all a child wants is to feel loved and to have loads and loads of fun on her birthday, and that can be shown without throwing a celebrity-status type of party. What happened to home-made food, daddy, mummy or uncle dressing up as clowns and organising games and party packs containing healthy snacks and useful items instead of junk food?
Having said this, we've been guilty also in jumping into the bandwagon, although not so lavishly. It's a difficult position to be in. It's not easy to balance between sensibility, holding on to your own principles and ideas of how a child's party should be, and making your child happy on her birthday.
It would be great if birthday parties could be done with some meaningful intent of instilling certain values in children. Why not a birthday party at an orphanage, instead of a hotel, celebrating your child's birthday with orphans whose birthday falls in the same month? Friends and classmates can still be invited, the clown can still be hired and how much more would you spend on food and party packs for a small group of orphans? How much more does it take for us to share our bounty and bring cheer to others and at the same time open up our kids' eyes to the world around us?
Good food for thought and consideration, I believe, for Caitlin's next party....