I finally learned my lesson

I regret being a birthday party fuckwit.  Evidently this can happen to anyone with a vagina and a child under seven.  Why?  Because we’re chronically exhausted and haven’t figured out our place on the maternal spectrum yet.  We want our children to think we’re heroes, and for other mothers to think we’re perfect.  We’re at the height of our delusion.  The good news is kids grow up, and so do moms.

Walk with me.

When Anna was turning seven, I thought an Eloise party would be the best birthday in the history of EVER.  If you’re not familiar with Eloise, she’s a rambunctious child who lives in the penthouse of The Plaza in NYC with her English nanny who spoils her because Eloise’s mother spends the majority of her time avoiding the inconvenience of parenting by shopping in Paris and screwing her divorce lawyer.  I made that last part up.  I don’t know who Eloise’s mom is dating.  I just know that her daughter has a blast terrorizing the hotel staff, and ordering room service at will, shouting “charge it please!” before she hangs up without a proper salutation.

Adorable, right?

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I know.

We were reading that particular series of books at the time, I was dumber than I am now, so naturally I became convinced an Eloise sleepover birthday party at the Ritz Carlton would be perfect.  We booked one sleeping room with two double beds, and I congratulated myself on embarking on the best birthday party ever.  But not before calling the Eloise store located in the lobby of The Plaza in NYC to order official Eloise paraphernalia for the goody bags…

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Our daughter, the pretend hotel-dwelling princess, chose an actual WEDDING cake for her birthday party.

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Yes, that’s the actual cake.

And I actually bought it.

Shhhhh let me finish the story.

In a perfect world I would have been severely punished for all of this nonsense.  Instead, when we checked into the hotel on the day of the party, the tuxedoed fellow behind the counter winked at me and said we’d been “upgraded.”

I imagined a slightly larger bathroom.

He delivered us here:

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I looked at him and thought, “Oh…there must be some HUGE mistake,” but what came out of my mouth was a casual, “Oh, well thank you so much – I’m sure this will be fine.”

He opened the double doors and waltzed us into a vision of hotel glory I had only seen in movies.

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I was simultaneously at home AND ashamed.  On the one hand I was like:  formal foyer with marble floors, giant living room (probably called a Grande Salon or something), its very own oval office, a banquet table for 12, floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city, and a master bedroom with a spa bathroom. Duh.  Send for my things.  Then he showed us the special service area with a separate entrance because rich people don’t like to see the help, and my skin crawled a little bit.

That’s probably why I accidentally broke one of their fantzy ceramic birds within 11 minutes.

Under normal circumstances I’d be the first person to shout, “Oh mah lored y’all somebody call the front desk I broke sumthin!” – because I stay in normal hotels where anything you break can be paid for with one paycheck.

In this case I shouted, “Oh mah lored DOES ANYBODY HAVE ANY SUPERGLUE????”

Yes, I picked up the broken pieces of that precious artwork, super-glued it back together, and politely hid it in a cabinet with the other million-dollar art birds.  I’m sorry, Ritz Carlton.

The rest of the day/evening looked like this:

Scavenger hunt with official stamps

Scavenger hunt with official stamps


Jumping on the million dollar bed

Jumping on the million dollar bed


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POOL PARTY!!!!

Calling room service to order ice cream sundaes, and ending the call with the requisite, “charge it please!”

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And watching the Eloise movie in their jammies.

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Clearly the next morning Anna needed to relax and have a snack before we checked out…

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Best birthday party ever right?

Wrong.

Hours spent planning/preparing:  Forever

Budget:  $1,300.00

Outcome:  Two years later she said, “That was my worst birthday party ever,” complete with an eye roll.

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Oh yes she did.

Since then the parties have become less extravagant with each passing year.

Cut to her last birthday party.

Four favorite friends, Publix cake, movies, and sleepover.  Done.

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Hours planning/preparing:  12 minutes

Budget:  $117.00

Outcome:  Totally happy child – “best birthday party ever!”

No I’m not kidding.  She said that with her mouth.  On purpose, to my face.

Takeaway:  If there was a Birthday Party Yoda, he would tell us this:

“Spend money you must not. Stupid you are.”

If you want advice from me, I’ll leave you with this nugget:

Save your money y’all, because kids don’t give a shit about expensive parties.  True Story.

Have you planned or attended a ridiculously outrageous birthday party?  Do you want to punch yourself, or the people who planned it?  Do you love Yoda?

NaBloPoMo November 2015

Comments

  1. If it’s any consolation, Lili thought it was the most epic birthday party ever and still talks about it.

  2. Their innocent cruelty knows no bounds. I say you take that savings straight to the spa. Alone.

  3. You know what is the funniest part of this story? The reality that your daughter is going to try the exact same shit once she has a daughter. Irrespective of the advice you dish out now.

    I still remember the exuberant cake we made for my son when he turned one. And he slept through most of it…He couldn’t even have cake!

    Princess, well, I would like to say we learned our lesson but she was a girl. And Mom never had a girl before!!

    Parents are nuts.

  4. I’ve made a concerted effort to not expose my daughters to high luxury. You have to be careful about where you set the bar while they’re so young. Plus, as you found out, they really don’t give a damn. And not that I’m all that smart–because heaven knows I make mistakes on an hourly basis–but I always thought the spa-treatment-for-6-year olds birthday parties and the like were more for the PARENTS than the kids.

    • That’s why our kids’ birthday parties always involved lots of booze. (For us! For us!)

    • You are a smart man. It’s part of why we left LA – I didn’t want Anna asking for a Prada purse in 1st grade…Ultimately I think we all just want our kids to be happy. I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize hugs, encouragement and faith in them is mostly what they need. And it’s FREE! Damn.

  5. I am always dreaming and planning how my first born (not yet) will have a fabulous first birthday party. After reading this, totally not doing it! This was a funny, yet eye opening post for all us crazy mothers πŸ˜€ Or mothers to be like me. No I am not pregnant yet πŸ˜‰

  6. With age and experience, wise we become! For years I’ve done a craft show or shows right around the time of my son’s birthday (11/20), and his birthday has gotten less and less work. The last few years, the highlight has been a hunt for treasure, where they all go from clue to clue taking them up, down and around our big yard, concluding at a container of loot for all.

  7. Thank you! I often feel bad that we can’t afford the expensive birthday parties. It’s nice to be reminded that they are not generally worth the price anyway. We’ll stick to low budget and be happy he can have a party.

    • Hey thank you for chiming in! There’s so much pressure in the parenting world these days – it’s nice to give each other a freakin break! Besides, being “able to afford” something and “choosing NOT to spend your money on ___” is only a matter of perspective. The first phrase makes us feel inadequate. The second one empowers us to acknowledge our true wealth : )

  8. The three rules of birthday parties are: sugar, sugar, sugar.

  9. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Being an introverted parent of an introvert, M never really wanted parties outside of family cake and dinner, and I never really encouraged anything else. The second movies and cake scenario with friends was more his style as he got older, and then not with a sleepover because he just wasn’t into that. instead, the buddies would all go home and they would all reconnect later on xBox live. Much cooler than having to share one console at one person’s house πŸ˜€

    I see how some parents go all out. I mean, good for them, but bounce houses and such then stressing over what to do next year already? Not me.

    • My girl is an introvert also, which is probably why she loved the low-key sleepover and hated the overstimulating Eloise party. You’ve got the right idea lady. As long as M is happy, you’re on the perfect birthday path. And yes, sharing consoles sucks. Everyone knows this : )

  10. When my boys were little little, we did the bounce house party, or the gymnastics party…whatever. And they were expensive! Of course, they don’t remember at all, and all I remember is being stressed about it. After about the age of 4, I started doing their parties at home to “save money” but I still somehow spent a butt ton. We would do a cake, piΓ±ata, themed decor, food for the kids and adults (our family would all be there), party favors for the kids, yada yada yada. While I preferred home to a party place (because kids can be dropped off at my house and I don’t have to socialize with people I hardly know), it was still an ass ache getting my house clean, ready, decorated, coordinating the balloons, food, cake, etc.
    They do remember *some* of those home parties, but now? I’m too damn tired for that shiz. Now that they’re older (8 and 11) they pick a friend or two to go to the movies and spend the night. done and done. I stress 1,000% less and spend WAY less money. Should’ve done that all along!

  11. btw, this was hysterical!!!

  12. Obviously, you have TWO callings in life: Party Planning and Mothering. May never the two shall meet!

    And I get it. We actually CATERED Jack’s 1st birthday party. Whaaat? Yes. And in his 1st year scrapbook, in which I documented every milestone, every cute thing he ever did in his first year of life? The scrapbook that has a FINAL page reserved especially for photos of his epic first birthday party? That page? Is blank. Yup. I never bothered to put the photos in. I used up all my energy on trying to be a perfect mother all year that I ended up without any energy at all by by the end of it. And now he has a handmade scrapbook with a final page entitled: “Jack’s 1st Birthday Party” and it’s BLANK. Much like the souls of children whose parents never run out of energy trying to be perfect.

    • Omg I can, and can’t, believe you catered Jack’s first birthday!!! We had a Destination Birthday for Anna in Folly Beach, SC haha. In my defense it’s because we lived in CA, and had family in SC and NC…Thank you for sharing that your “first year” book isn’t complete. Neither is mine. Sigh. One day….YES I know that is not a day of the week. Ugg. More wine please.

  13. If my daughter said that was the worst party ever, I might cut her

    • I considered it, but my insurance deductible hadn’t been met yet, and ER fees are more expensive than regular doctors, so all in all it wasn’t a good fiscal choice, so I opted to just drive us home and pretend she never said that. Until this week πŸ˜‰

  14. I can’t even imagine this kind of crazy – luckily I don’t have to as there is photo evidence πŸ˜‰

  15. Reblogged this on The Willette.

  16. I love the end lesson here! And I completely agree when it comes to most kids, less is more, haha!

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