Birthday Anxiety

Brazilian kid birthdays are a big deal.  Tons of food, elaborate themes, party houses, trampolines, ball pits, games, candy, lollipops, sweets, and beer to help get the parents through.    If you don’t believe me just look here, here, or here.

L’s third birthday is on Monday and this whole birthday extravaganza hasn’t ever really been our thing.   Not that L hasn’t had great birthdays.   On her first birthday we went to a nearby park, I made an awesome layered lemon cake and totally bombed L’s monkey cake (so much so our friend told me it looked like burnt lungs).   On her second birthday, we had a wonderful BBQ at the park where we ate good food with our friends and the kids ran around and wore themselves out.   Both low key.

Given that neither L or us have many friends here and that it is a holiday weekend, I originally planned to just have a family birthday party for her.   I figured we will have plenty of birthdays to come where her inflated expectations will lead us to do ridiculous things (though I am not sure we are talking Brazilian ridiculousness).  But I did decide to ask L’s school if she could bring treats and the director suggested we just hold the birthday party there.

Perfect.   Simple, short, and I won’t have to clean up.  But as the director mentioned what we could do, I realized that even the simple expectations were above and beyond what I had envisioned.   I guess cupcakes on napkins wasn’t what they had in mind.

It is at this point that I realized the conflict of expectations I have going through my mind.   In Chicago, I would have worried about sending too much sugar in the treats, especially since it is at noon the part-time kids won’t have eaten lunch yet.   Here, I am suddenly worried about not having enough stuff.

So as L and I went downtown to shop for her birthday party, I decided to strike a happy medium.   And here is what we came out with:

– Theme:  Blue (Don’t ask.  I don’t know.   Despite a recent obsession with Tinker Bell, L decided we would do everything blue–table cloth, cups, plates, spoons, balloons, goodie bags, and brigadeiro cups)

– Savory Treats: Pao de queijo

– Sweet Treats: Cupcakes with sprinkles and brigadeiro

– Goodie Bags:  A cup filled with homemade play dough, mini bubbles, a whistle, a lollipop, and a mini bag of jelly beans.  I couldn’t bring myself to fill other people’s houses with tons of cheap plastic toys that I wouldn’t want in mine.

I am counting on the school for songs and games.   In and out in a half hour!

I have to say I was, up until last week, comforted by the fact that L had no point of reference of what Brazilian birthday parties were actually like.  Then on Tuesday we received an Angelina Ballerina invitation to L’s classmate’s birthday party on Sunday night from 5 – 9 p.m.   So much for that.   But I guess there is no better time to learn that some parents are just lamer than others, and L was blessed with those, at least when it comes to birthday parties.

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2 thoughts on “Birthday Anxiety

  1. I am doing the same thing for Chatterbox at the end of the month. We’ll have a school one this year. It is so $$ to have a traditional party. And I think they are so over the top!

    • I have a feeling I will ride this approach out for as long as I can. I remember when I turned eight my mom told me that I was now old enough to start having a couple close friends over to do something really special (e.g. camping, dinner and a movie, etc.) rather than just having a party. I knew she was glorifying her cop-out and I thought it was lame. But as a parent, I think it is brilliant.

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