Bounce houses, rambunctious party games, sugary candy, caffeinated soda, cheap party favors, food left out on banquet tables for children to grab, spill, and lick, large pinatas inevitably leading to kids blindfolded with bats…
If these images send chills down your spine, you’re like me and, likely, you have a kid like mine who gets overwhelmed and overstimulated in a party setting.
Don’t get me wrong. I love parties. But now that I have a four year-old with ASD and a one year-old in tow, parties mean work, and lots of it. I spend my time at parties running around like a maniac, trying to ensure my children don’t create too much havoc and, if they do, at least other parents will see me attempting to stop it versus sitting in a lawn chair enjoying an adult beverage (man, that sounds nice). The relaxing for me comes at home, hours later when the kids are finally in bed, with my feet up and a glass of wine in hand.
Let’s face it though. It’s become a societal expectation to throw outlandish parties for our children. Every year around this time, I get catalogs in the mail for kid-party theme kits running upwards of two hundred dollars for decorations alone.
Don’t tell me I’m alone in thinking it’s a little overkill.
So this year, we decided to forego conventions. For Big C’s fourth birthday this past Friday, my husband and I decided not to throw a party.
Don’t get me wrong. Big C still had lots to look forward to as we carefully listened to his comments about what he was expecting. A new episode of Astroblast was in our DVR queue, a paper crown was set delicately upon a couch cushion, and we were sure to say, “Surprise!” when he walked down the stairs to his banner and balloons. Certainly, we sang “Happy Birthday!” and he blew out four candles.
I didn’t make the cake. Big C helped me pick it out at Meijer.
I didn’t cook. Big C got his favorite: Jet’s cheese bread with Ranch dipping sauce.
I didn’t buy party favors or play party games. Big C spent much of his day playing in the new sandbox his Daddy made him.
I didn’t have a bunch of kids over. His grandma, grandpa, and great-grandma were the only guests in attendance.
Big C was completely clueless he “missed out” on a big ‘ol party. In his mind, his every birthday wish was fulfilled. In fact, he told us repeatedly that it was a “Great day!” and “Thank you very much!”
Big C went to bed happy.
And I went to bed with a happy heart.
And a clean house.
A version of this post also appears on Sammiches and Psych Meds.