Friday, November 19, 2010

Birthday Parties and other Frivolities

A warning for those who are pressed for time: This is going to be one of those posts that isn't about much at all and ends with me waxing lyrical about how gorgeous my son is.

Tomorrow we're hosting a pre-birthday birthday party for J. We'll be in Sydney for his actual birthday and we wanted to celebrate with our friends here in some way. I read somewhere, in a party planning guide, that you should invite one guest for every year of the child's age. Well, one person just didn't seem like a proper party, and my son's best friends are triplets so that piece of advice was promptly ignored. I did however, want to keep things fairly quiet and low key so I only invited a handful of our closest friends and neighbours. My husband was disappointed by my list and went on to invite just about everyone we've ever met in Hong Kong. This lead to a fairly significant argument over invitation etiquette; my husband being of the belief that it's best to invite everyone to avoid offending someone. He was sure many of our single friends would have better things to do on a Saturday afternoon than come to a kids birthday party, and would politely decline. I'm not a fan of the token invite, preferring not to take that chance and risk ending up with 40 people at my son's first birthday, but the invites had already been sent. So we didn't get off to a great start but in the end we are expecting about 20 people, parents and kids, which I think is perfect.

I worked for a few days this week and my husband and I were both struck down (at different times) by a nasty stomach bug so the week was a little stressful. It was also the week the December roster came out so we were busy dealing with several sets of parents and trying to coordinate our upcoming trip to Sydney. As it turned out we simply ended up disappointing everyone (a separate blog post on this topic is coming), so the week was unpleasant as well as stressful. In amongst all that I did do a lot of planning for my boy's big day but very little preparation. I spent today running around buying groceries and trying to find party supplies (impossible on Lantau and in Elements), the whole time worrying that J was going to be tired and cranky and that the whole thing had gotten to be too big a deal. I pressed on and finally tracked down balloons and party bags at the toy shop in Mui Wo (thanks Bizzie Lizzie). Despite being ever so helpful, the lady that runs the shop mentioned prizes for games and I smacked my head in disbelief: yet another thing to worry about that I hadn't even thought of! I wanted to write tonight about the unnecessary pressure I've put on myself this week to be supermum and to put on a great party for my little one. I remembered all the parties I've been to and the little things that other parents have done to make them special; I wanted my party to be in that same league somehow. I spent the drive home worrying about pass-the-parcel and age-appropriate music and walked in the door swearing that J's first birthday party would be the last.

Then I started thinking about why it is we were so keen to celebrate this milestone. It's because it's his first birthday, his first ever. My little boy was born (almost) a year ago and he's a fantastic human being who deserves to be celebrated, whether he knows it or not. When I was getting J ready for bed tonight he started playing with the ipod that we keep in his room for his sleepytime music, and despite the fact that there wasn't anything coming out of it he started bouncing up and down, his idea of dancing. I turned it on and his little face lit up and he did his best Stevie Wonder impersonation, swaying from side to side. At that moment he was so cute and sweet that I thought my heart would burst! This whole week he's kept me smiling, no matter how stressful things have been. And that's why I'm throwing him a party tomorrow.

While I'm at it, I think we deserve to celebrate for ourselves too. We survived a year of colic, reflux, sleep deprivation, baby flu (worse than man flu), pureed vegies on the carpet, porridge in our hair, and everyone who is biologically related to us feeling as though they have a right to be a part of our son's life (when it's actually more like a privilege that has to be earned).  The best part is that we survived all that and we couldn't be happier.

I realised that my son is too young to remember that he even had a first birthday. And I also realised that all of the children coming tomorrow are under the age of three and most of them will just be happy to be outside playing with their friends. So, there'll be cake but it'll come out of a packet. There'll be food, but it'll be healthy, tasty stuff for the grown-ups. There won't be games, but we've hired an expensive beach-side patch of grass for the kids to play on. There will be party bags, but there isn't much in them. And if my son is tired and cranky we'll bring him home and put him to bed, and years from now we'll tell him that his first birthday was awesome. I'm already planning next year's...

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