Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Birthday Party Craze

We live in a world where we like to think it’s all about the kids. Playing classical music and reciting poetry to your belly upon finding out you are 3 weeks pregnant. Showing your one month old flash cards of art work by Monet, Van Gogh and what not to make sure they have a very well-rounded education.

We want to make sure that they have the best education, so teaching them to read at 2 will ensure they turn into geniuses. We take them to every type of extra-curricular activity a child can possibly cram into their day and of course, we make sure to throw the BEST birthday parties out there.

Okay, not all of us are that crazy.

But I will admit to one thing. The birthday party crazes. Guilty. As. Charged.

Every year, each one of my kids gets to request a birthday cake. Anything they want. And their devoted loving mother stays up till 2 in the morning creating the master piece for the big day. We’ve had hot air balloons, race tracks (with a tunnel and a bridge!), princesses, ballerinas, clowns, and trains.

There was always a theme, with color coordinated decorations and activities and an array of goodies sure to sugar up every single child at that party.

Well, this year was different.

Firstly, this year we celebrated the first birthday of our twins. Gosh, I had this party planned from the day I found out they were twins! The colors, the themes, the cakes, decorations- this party was gonna be SMASHING!

I started baking when 2 of my kids asked if they could help me. Okay. Sure. And the next thing I knew, another little rascal arrived at the kitchen table and everyone was busy, pouring flour, sugar, and all that good stuff that makes our kids go a little nutty once consumed, into the mixing bowl.

Each got a turn to mix, one was assigned to put all the cupcake holders in the cup cake pans, and another poured the batter into each holder. We then moved on to the brownies, chatting, singing, messing but really having a pretty awesome time.

Came time for the frosting and my little scientists decided they wanted to create their own colors, mixing all the different food colorings in their own bowl of white frosting.

Thank you Maria Montessori for instilling in me the understanding of how children are naturally curious and love figuring things out for themselves, not just in a school environment, but everywhere in their world.

And so we had these pretty awesome marble multi colored frosted cupcakes.

Then came the biggie.

“oooh mommy, can we decorate outside with streamers and balloons, pllllllleeeeeeeease!!!!!!”

There I go, handing over all the balloons and streamers, with some ribbon and tape. All yours kiddos. And there went my color coordinated strategically themed birthday party.

But. Outside in the yard, balloons were everywhere. Streamers hung from the trees, the slide, the swings, the fence, even the hose. And those kids could not have been happier.

All the kids had a blast at the party. The twins enjoyed their multicolored cupcakes, without a clue that the party was for them.

And it all became pretty clear. It’s not about us. It’s not about our fancy decorations or our perfect cupcakes. It’s not about teachers sending home the perfect arts and crafts (that they finished up for the kids so the parents would be impressed) or the fancy projects (that the kids have no clue what it’s all about but it looks like the teacher put lots of effort into it).

It’s about letting the kids be kids. Let them mix the colors. Let them decorate the back yard. Let them take as long as they need to finish a picture, because it’s not about the end result. It’s about them having pride in the fact that THEY did this. THEY created this. Let us adults put our egos aside, and just let these little amazing people, just be little amazing people.

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