Sunday, September 24, 2006

Discusting Displays of Excess....

What is it about birthday parties, now-a-days, that the birthday child is encouraged to be a greedy, oversensative, hyperactive, spoiled little snot???? I've been to lots of birthday parties in the last several years, and while not all of them are overdone events of excess, most are.

Take my niece's 4th birthday party yesterday (she actually turns 4 tomorrow, but tradition states that the party is generally on the saturday closest to the actual birthday). My sister paid $175 to rent a party room for 2 hours at the local glow-in-the-dark mini-golf place. If that wasn't bad enough (and it was bad, OH, was it bad for the eyes!), she decked my already-spoiled-rotten niece out in a REAL (ok, not diamonds, but still real crystals) tiara, Cinderella costume, and had my niece's nails done up fancy with butterflies and such. The party was, of course, Disney princesses, because my niece is "a princess" dontcha know?!?!? No sooner do we get there and Sis & Dad start hauling in cake, and supplies, and armloads (and I mean this literally) of birthday presents, and my daughter is hauled aside by my SISTER and reminded that as the oldest child present, she will be expected to set a good example for all the younger kids. Don't get me wrong, my daughter CAN be a brat. She was displaying her talent in that arena well this morning, but publicly she tends to be fairly well behaved. Oh, she spent some time rolling her eyes and muttering in my ear about how bored she was, and she was prefering to sit in MY lap (did I mention she's 4'6" tall and 97 lbs, to my 5'0"?) than in the chair around the table. But she wasn't screaming, crying, yelling that SHE wanted to sit next to the birthday girl (or yelling that she DIDN'T want to, for that matter), running helter-skelter around the golfing area untended (like most of the younger ones were) or generally misbehaving. Instead, she was acting like a slightly grumpy pre-adolescent at a preschooler's party. No worse. And still, my sister insists, about mid-way through the party, on berating my daughter again on her bad attitude.

Anyway, took till 1:20 (we got there at 12:45) before my sister decided that it was time to serve the cake (ALL the kids were antzy, my daughter was the only one confining that antzy-ness to rolling eyes & grumbling) instead of waiting for the last family to show up (didn't show till 2). So, eat the cake, with several of the younger whining about this, that, and the other. Juice getting knocked over because they wouldn't sit still, kids leaving the room, unattended by their parents, and my niece starting to shriek about when was she going to get to open all those presents. So, cake gets finished and presents start coming. For about the first 2, my sister insisted that my niece thank the recipients. It was such a mumbled thank-you that unless one is REALLY good at lip-reading, one would not have known that a Thank You actually issued from those lips. Of course, the bigger the present (and all but 3 of the gifts had at least 3 large items stuffed into an enourmouse gift bag), the more fuss was made over it. And NOT just by my niece. By my sister. If it was Disney Princesses, it got a LOT of Ooohing and gushing, by BOTH. If it wasn't Disney Princesses, it got a quick show-off, then stuffed back in the bag from whence it came & put off to the side. The only exception was the Dallas Stars hockey jersey sent to my niece by my Aunt & Uncle from Tx. My well-thought-out gift of hard-back copy of "Fancy Nancy" (cute book!) and a canvas bookbag from my local library (North Pole Branch Lib's logo is a snow-man, reading a book, under a candy-cane street-light with snow-flakes falling around him) got hardly a look before being stuffed in a black trash-bag for the ride home. Certainly cost more than I should have spent, for all the 5 seconds of attention it got before being discarded by my niece & sister.

Besides the fact that every other gift there was very commercial, about 5 presents in, my niece started shreaking (and I am NOT bull-shitting, or exagerating) in this high-pitched tone "I want more presents, I wanna open more presents!!! Mommy, give me more presents!!!!" To which my sister would try handing them over faster. If it took longer than 3 seconds (I counted) between discarding the previous present, and the handing over of the next, my niece would shreak. All pretense of "Thank You's" and recognition to the giver was dispensed with. At one point, my daughter got sick of my niece shreaking right in her ear, and grabbed two presents to hand to my niece. Oh no.... Another chew-out for my daughter because THOSE two presents just happened to be from my sister (Niece's Mommy) and Sis. wanted THOSE to be given last!!! Anyway, LAST six presents were actually more for my sis (bought BY my sis), than for my niece. By that I mean that MY NIECE didn't get a chance to Ooooh & gush over them herself. Instead, my Sister pulls out two boxes that contain a Disney Princesses 14" Tv and a Disney Princesses DVD player, and holds the boxes aloft, allowing ALL THE OTHER PARENTS to see how incredibly generous toward her own daughter, my sister is. From the display, I surmised that these two gifts were not bought at all with my niece's desires in mind. But with my sister's appearance in mind. Terribly narcisistic, that one. Anything that makes her look good, generous, and rich MUST be something she has to have. Last 4 gifts (which nobody ever saw in full) from my sister evidently contained crap-loads more disney princesses stuff, dolls & princess costumes among them, from what I could tell. Because it was now 2:15, my sis decided NOT to have my niece rip into those last 4 bags completely. All the remainder of the kids had lost interest in the gifts altogether, and were pushing to go play mini-golf. By the time all was said and done, the equivilent of 6 large black garbage bags (the kind lots of folks use to bag fallen leaves in) of gifts had been given.

So, explain the rules of the game to the kids, caution the parents that all children under 12 (which all of them were) must be closely parentally monitored, put on the glow-in-the-dark bracelets, and send the kids out to play. Whining & crying was heard by my niece (and several other of the little brats present, though, only a couple of huffs & sighs & rolling eyes by my daughter) when she either didn't get to beat the crap out of the ball, the person behind her (Tay) with her club, or the green, OR when she couldn't cut in front of whomever the hell was in her way at that particular moment. And, after the first attempt by my sister to calm "Her Royal Heinous!" (Yes, I purposely misspelled that, just not sure that I mis-spelled it properly.) my sister gave up and let "HRH" cut in front of whomever she so chose. Remember that we were NOT the only "party" there yesterday. There was another birthday party going on, as well as individuals & families who'd come in for their own good time. And "HRH" was allowed to cut in front of whomever she wanted. Then she threw a tantrum at the end when she did NOT get a hole-in-one and the "ultimate prize" for getting a hole-in-one on the 18th hole. *shaking head*

DD & I tried to say goodbye to "HRH", but she was so overstimulated (though, she pulls this stunt often, so it wasn't JUST overstimulation, but general poor manners as well) that she was throwing a temper tantrum every time somebody tried to tell her thanks for the invite, or wish her a happy birthday. I had to laugh when I told my sister "Thank you" for inviting us. Her return comment was "well, of course I had to invite you, you're family." My response was along the lines of "well, it never hurts to be polite and say thank you, nonetheless." She just glared at me for the (correctly) interpreted jab against her manners (and those of her daughter). Of course she couldn't say anything to my remark, because it's true. Even though HRH was a pain in the butt, and Sis is an all-grown-up version of HRH's attitude, I and my daughter can still be polite and say thank you and be gracious. And then I get to come here and bitch to the world at large. *wink*

Thankfully, within minutes after my daughter's round of golf ended, my dad was finished loading crap into the two vehicals (took 2 vehicals to get all the presents over to Sis's apartement), and we got to leave (after a quick tour through the local school-house supply store, for my daughter's edification). *rolling eyes*

Suffice it to say, as we drove home yesterday, I informed my daughter that I was proud of her general behavior (with a reminder that she REALLY IS too big to sit on my lap, anymore), that I'm proud of her for never having behaved in the manner in which my niece did. I also informed DD that she will be getting NOWHERE near as many presents, so don't count on it. It doesn't mean we love her less, only that we don't like maxing out her credit cards on crap she doesn't need. She's been told for weeks now that she's only getting 1 gift from DH & I, but that she'll like it. It's a $74 pair of Heely's (those tennis-shoes with wheels in the heel) that she's been asking for, for 2 years now. I figured that after 2 years of asking, she can have a pair, but she's getting a size larger (she wears a women's size 6, DH bought a size 7 pair of Heely's) and that's ALL she's getting for this birthday. I've also given the relatives notice to not bother to go overboard, as she's more interested in playing outside than playing with toys, anyway. I can't say what the other guests will do, but I don't have any control over them. I just hope Bratz dolls & Barbies are not gifted, because DD doesn't play with the ones she's got now. Oh, and DD's party will be at the local batting cages (2 years ago was 40$ for a room & lazer tag for a group of friends, last year was 40$ to rent a small space at a local ice-rink and ice-skating for her & friends, this year is the batting cages, all of which were at HER request), which has a room to use for free (as long as we don't mind sharing the -very large- space with other folks who show up), and we'll be shelling out the 2 dollars per child who wants a turn in the batting cages. And we bought a cake, and the necessary plates & such to use. Beyond that, we're not shelling out anything except for the 1 present. No $175 for an exclusive 2 hour rental of a room for us. We don't make that kind of money. Nor do we believe in charging that kind of money to our credit-cards.

And next year, DD can invite 2 friends to the movies, or for a sleep-over, or some-other-such big-girl activity. No more huge parties. 9 years is enough. I can't take it any more. ;)

Anyway, as I said at the beginning, I have gotten totally discusted by the displays of excess that birthday parties have become. The party child seldom appreciates it, and in many cases it seems that it is more for the benefit of the parents than for the child who is being celebrated. The parents want to show off their vast "generousity" and monetary means, regardless of what the child wants. I know that even my mom was like this. She insisted on throwing me parties (albeit at home), with nasty store-bought cake, and neighbourhood kids (or classmates) that I didn't get along with anyway. I wanted a nice dinner out, a few well-thought-out presents from family, and cheesecake for desert. No fancy parties. I hate parties. I have been threatening my DH's life, since we met, with death should he EVER have the nerve to throw me a party. And I DO mean ever! I don't want a party like that at 30, at 40, at 50, for our golden anniversary.... EVER, EVER, EVER. If he truly wants to celebrate my life, or our marriage, it'll include him & me going out to dinner (a few family members or very good friends, if it's a birthday dinner) or on vacation (Ireland for our 25th wedding anniversary, Sweety?) alone together.

Anyway.... Just had to get all that off my chest. I can't complain to my Dad as he thinks baby-Sis can do no wrong (see previous posts). My mom is too busy to listen, and I think she's quite honestly sick of listening to her oldest gripe about her youngest. My middle sis (who reads my blog anyway) is probably sick of hearing me gripe as well, but if she doesn't want to read this, she doesn't have to. My husband just nodds and doesn't say anything because he agrees with me & it's like preaching to the choir. Besides, his sister is JUST as bad as my baby-Sis, so he's kinda sick of that kind of attitude and doesn't wanna hear any more, anyway. So, you, my dear readers, get to listen to me bitch & gripe. Thanks!!!!! :-)

Have a Blessed Day!


Michelle said...

ME?! Tired of hearing you gripe?! :-)

I had a feeling that it would be that bad. I talked to K. for an HOUR a couple of days ago (we were chatting on yahoo messenger with the video cam on and I wanted to say hi to the little one) and the most prominant feature of the conversation was K. talking about the presents that she bought K.

Be glad, I think, that you're not going to make the wedding in Michigan. Can you just imagine what K. will be like there?!

Give YOUR little one a huge big hug from me!

Kati said...

Oh, I'm grateful every time I think about it, that I won't be able to make it to K's wedding. As it is, she's likely expecting a big-ass wedding gift from S. & I. I'm half tempted to give her an afghan, just because I know she'd hate it, but I'm not going to put THAT kind of effort into something for K. She's so terribly ungrateful that I'm not bothering to put myself out for her, anymore. Terrible as that is to say about one's sister, it's the truth. So, now I get to figure out what S. and I CAN afford to give her. Maybe a 8 place setting of plastic, Disney Princesses dishware?!?!?!?! *evil grin*

Slip said...

Dear Kati!
First time reader of your blog and I found this party post to be a bit disturbing. When my children were growing up,(they are now 35 and 31), the best present I gave them each year for their birthday was to let them live for another year. Your neice is a very lucky little girl, sounds like she will grow up to be just like Mom!

Now about the 8 place setting of plastic, Disney Princess Dishware. Make sure it is dishwasher safe cause it does not sound like your other sis will ever sink her hands into a sink full of dirty dishes!

Kati said...

Hey Slip!!! Thanks for your comments. I've made similar comments to my daughter as well... That she's just lucky I've let her live 7, 8, now 9 years. That and the threat "I brought you into this world and I can damn well take you out!!" ;) Or reminders that as her mama, I'll kick her butt if I need to, I don't care how much bigger than me she gets. LOL

Kid's don't need their parents to be their best friends, or their jailers. They need us to give them equal measures of love & firm guidance. Too many folks forget that, anymore.