Sunday, January 21, 2007

Somebody stop the pressure...


Today on AOL there's an article about kids birthday parties getting out of control and parents rising up to do something about it. To see it, click here. I couldn't agree more with the parents that have started this group, "birthdays without pressure." When the kids were little I had a few of these kind of birthday parties where I felt like I had to half kill myself to put them on and then I realized in many instances the kids could not care less and in fact would not even remember them. I freaked out about Jordan putting his hand in the middle of his cake when he was two years old (I think that was the b'day that happened at least...can't remember now, that shows you how crucial it was!) Anyway, I freaked out about all the work I put into this cake and ran out to buy a perfect one. You know, these two year olds did not even care that he put his hand in the center of the cake. It was no biggie to them. I was the one with the problem.

Parenting is more difficult today partially because of the expectations parents have put upon themselves. I have been guilty of this myself sometimes and have tried to change over the years as I saw myself fall into this trap a few times. Many are in a race to out-do one another and it's not even about the kids anymore. This article talks about elaborate birthday parties that are more about the parents showcasing what they can afford, or out-doing other kids and their parents than it is about celebrating the child's special day.

I look at how things have changed since we were in school. When I was a child we had graduation from high school. That was it. Today you have kindergarten graduation (some even tell me they have nursery school graduations now...what a waste of time/money in my humble opinion.) Then you have 5th grade graduation, followed by 8th grade graduation, followed by 12th grade graduation and then of course, college. It's not only senior prom that kids are rolling up in limo's to. Now they roll up in limos to their 8th grade dance. You have eighth graders purchasing expensive dresses, tuxedos, getting their hair in updo's, getting their acrylic nails done, and getting expensive photo packages. And meanwhile, parents have just gone along with all this and not spoken up as any of these changes have come about in our schools or our children's lives. What's next? A prom for 5th graders? This would not shock me at all. 

Dustin is graduating this year. I expected quite a tab for all of the graduation expenses but had NO IDEA just how things have changed. I just want to warn all you parents out there who have a kid graduating in the coming years...before you take a look at the photo packages for senior pictures, go to your doctor and get a prescription for valium. Take it before you look at the prices of these packages. You'll need it. Did we get everything for Dustin from the school ring to the photos to you name it? Of course, it's his high school graduation. Will we have a nice party for him? OF COURSE! But rest assured we won't be going into debt to do it. I won't have to take out a second mortgage for it. I'm just making the point, expectations for these things have just gone through the roof. Some of the things offered in the graduation booklet were things I have never heard of and I asked Dustin, "do you want this or that?" And he said, "No Mom, what in the world would I want or need that for...it's ridiculous!!!" I guess I'm blessed to have a kid who is level headed to some degree on some of these things. 

I applaud these parents who have started this organization and have said, "no more...we are not renting a castle for our five year old's birthday party. No more, no more, no more." Where are the days of a cake and ice cream, balloons, some gifts from friends, and maybe something fun like pin the tail on the donkey or the pinata? It's given way to having little kids picked up in limos for birthday parties (I'm not kidding!), and renting a live Cinderella for the afternoon followed up by each person getting a personal photo with Cinderella. I think it's time for parents everywhere to stand up and say, "we're going back to birthdays, graduations, and all the rest with celebrations, but not one-upmanship. We're not trying to keep up with the Jones's. We just want to celebrate our kid and let them know we love them without paying for Hilary Duff to come and sing at the party or something equally as ridiculous.

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