How We Do Three

In 5 days my daughter will turn 3 years old.

A month or two ago I started agonizing over how we should celebrate her birthday. I wasn’t sure what the protocol was for a 3 year old but I know lots of people throw their kids big parties at that age.

Case in point – we were invited to one such party back in October. There were a SHITLOAD of kids there. And because kids at that age are not yet able to attend parties on their own – the house was not only full of manic, sugar high kids but also bustling parents. Kids were running around everywhere while their parents tried to make them properly play pin the eye on Muno, or remember their manners while eating the giant Brobee cake or to wait their turn for face painting.

I stood back and watched the whole thing in horror, thinking that I would have to put on something like this for Ruby. But how and what and where? Gah!

But then I tuned in to Ruby and noticed something… she didn’t seem to be overly enjoying herself. She was quiet, standing back, mostly watching the party. Her body language indicated she might have been a bit nervous. I gently encouraged her to join in to different games and she shook her head and said no. Fair enough.

After that I decided to go with my gut – which is that at 3, a large scale party is not only unnecessary but also not enjoyable for everyone, it's expensive, stressful and time consuming. And it is not for us. It may be for some – I’m not out to slag anyone or piss people off who like to throw big parties, hey if you've got the time and money and energy for it, fill your boots.  But if we’re to be honest, the party is not REALLY for the 3 year old who will never remember it anyways.

Last weekend we attended yet another large scale 3 year old’s birthday party. Complete with 3D Dora cake, parents dressed up like Dora’s parents, a framed photo of the child with the words to the Dora theme song printed out and framed on the gift table, and a giant Dora cutout for photo ops. Ruby played with the other kids and ate her piece of the Dora cake but didn’t want to get too close to the heart of the ruckus. Myself, I was sporting a bit of a red wine hangover and lurked in the back of the room, eating Ativan and praying to be excluded from conversations such as “What classes are you signing Sally up for in January? Are you doing Tiny Tutu’s again?”

No, this weekend we are going to spend time together as a family, doing something fun with the kids. And on Ruby’s actually birthday on Tuesday, the four of us will probably have pizza or chicken nuggets for dinner. We might have a few balloons because Ruby loves balloons. We’ll open a couple of presents. And we’ll eat cake (that my mom will have baked for us, as is family tradition) and we’ll sing Happy Birthday. Ruby will feel totally special and she’ll be thrilled with all of it.

And I won’t have to remortgage my house to pay for a bouncy castle or pony rides.