A few weeks before his birthday, the mother of one of his friends asked me "So when will Zachary's birthday party be?"
Was that an incredibly rude question? Absolutely. But it was also totally without malice. She was genuinely curious about when his party would be because it's the norm. It's expected. Zachary had attended her kid's party, so she assumed her kid would attend his. Elaborate, expensive birthday celebrations are just a foregone conclusion, even in my rural, low-income community. EVERYBODY does it.
Except I don't.
It wasn't like one day I woke up and made a huge decree of "There will be no themed birthday celebrations in this house, no clowns or circus animals, no pony rides, no paid magicians, no rented skating rinks or bouncy houses." It just sort of happened that way.
And that's not to say that we don't celebrate our kids' birthdays. We most certainly do. But it's more... understated. More... family oriented.
In the weeks leading up to Zachary's birthday, I started talking to him about how he wanted to spend the day. We tossed around a few ideas, some of which I confirmed and some of which remained a mystery until the big day. After all, anticipation of the surprise is half the fun when you're turning seven, I think. One thing he asked for and held firm on was a "Pokemon-Superhero-Skylander-Mario-Angry Birds-Beyblade-Wipeout cake."
This Mama absolutely NAILED that one, thank you very much.
When his birthday arrived, the four of us spent the day eating pancakes for breakfast, shopping for a new toy, jumping on some crazy inflatables, roller skating, blowing out candles and eating cake, and we finished the day at our favorite Mexican restaurant where we ate quesidillas and nachos and the waiters sang to Zachary and let him wear the sombrero of honor.
On the way home, I asked Zachary how he liked his birthday and he answered "Best. Day. Ever."
It's hard to argue with that.
So even though I feel just the SLIGHTEST bit of guilt that we don't reciprocate birthday party invitations with invitations of equal or greater value, Zachary had a great day, the rest of our family had a great day, and it's what works for us.
At least right now.
I'm of a "never say never" mindset on this, though, and at some point in the future if one of the boys has his heart set on an space-themed-party-with-30-of-his-closest-friends-and-rocket-ship-rides-and-a-real-LIVE-ASTRONAUT I'm not saying that I'll say no.
But I might.
How about you? How do you handle kid's birthdays in your family?