8/07/2008

When I am King: Party Pooper

When I am King...

There will be no more birthday parties.

It's that time of year again. The California hills are that beautiful shade of tan that says, "Light me!" So many people are on vacation that the traffic on the highways actually moves during rush hour. And I have so many parties to arrange that I feel like a wedding planner in a polygamist compound.

All of my kids have birthdays within a week of each other. It's not something we planned, it just happened, like sunburn. Or a zit. So every year we spend weeks getting ready for the onslaught of cake, friends, presents, entertainment, and mess that is to come.

It's not that we're big, fancy party people. In fact, we have pretty much escaped the overdone parties that many of our kids' friends have thrown. But any party is a hassle, nonetheless. It makes me pine for the days when 'party' meant a keg standing in a pool of stale beer while music blasted from a stereo loud enough to wake the dead drunk.

Why can't birthday parties be simple? Or, put another way, why can't we avoid parties altogether for our kids? They know they're getting older, we know they're getting older, and all of their friends are getting older right along with them. So why bother with all of the hoopla?

The key, like most things in society, is peer pressure (which is not the same as beer pressure, an essential element in keg parties). Your kid will want a party because they just went to some other kid's party. You feel you have to throw a party because your friend just threw one for their kid. And we all feel like we have to suffer because everyone else suffers.

But meanwhile, we're all aging until we get to a point where, frankly, getting older isn't something we really want to draw attention to. Besides, we're already doing an admirable job of becoming noticeably more decrepit with our graying hair, creaking bones, phlegmy cough, and discussions about bands that have long since OD'd.

When I am King, there will be no more birthday parties. Instead, each child will receive an extra helping of vegetables at the evening meal, and the family will sing something like this song:
Congratulations on
Getting older.
One year more and
One year older.

Quickly now the
Grave approaches
(Some word here that
rhymes with 'coaches').
Sure, it'll be a bit depressing for the kids. But think of how much happier the parents will be, not having to plan something more elaborate. And in being happier, they will provide a better environment for their children, who can keep getting older every year until they finally move out, have their own kids, and start not throwing parties for them in their turn.

I'm not saying we won't have cake anymore. That's the only good part of any party. But instead of having cake once a year, it'll be every day, so as to not draw attention to the birthday. And I get the corner piece with all of the frosting.
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