The Birthday Deal

birthdayfreebie1_11112011114449Over the last few years, I have had the opportunity to be a part of many birthday celebrations for kids of all ages and have come to realize what a birthday means to the parents and the child; more so, since I have been celebrating my own daughter’s birthday of late.

On a typical birthday celebration, friends and relatives of the parents are invited along with some friends of the birthday baby. But wait a minute…what is the objective of a birthday celebration? I mean, why do we celebrate a child’s birthday? Broadly defined, it is an occasion for the parents to be happy and for it to be a special day for the child when he / she has fun. If that is the objective, then why would we want to make it such a big deal and make it a cause for worry and a social status symbol? Why would we worry so much about what the child wears, who all are invited, what the menu would be, what activities would we organize, where would we get a cake fancier than the last one we saw and not to forget, what party favors would be doled out to all attendees.

Many times, we tend to think about the last few birthday parties we attended as our benchmark and think about ways in which we can top that and provide our guests with a ‘newer’ experience. Let us say we do all that.

What happens on that day? We are unable to attend to all our guests and many of them do not even know each other. While there are activities for the kids, the parents, and nowadays, more often the maids, are hanging around, waiting for the food to be served. As for the food, while we do take the high ground with our own kids most times, on birthdays, for some reason, we propagate junk food, which the adults have no choice but to have. There is loud music, the activity coordinator is  yelling, while the birthday baby is showered with gifts, mostly passed on from what the attendees had received on their birthdays.

So, at the end of the day, what is the outcome? We have the parents of the birthday baby, awfully exhausted with the effort and expense and the hullabaloo. We have the kids who attended the birthday bash, loaded with junk food and some more gifts which their mothers would now wonder what to do with. We have the accompanying adults who are thankful that one more such party is over and they now have one less to attend. And let us not forget, we have the birthday baby, loaded with gifts of all kinds, which he / she probably does not know what to do with and who has got the following messages: ‘fun means junk food, noise and an excess of things which we do not need’. So let’s take a step back again. What was the objective of the birthday celebration again? A fun day for the child? Your being happy that the child has crossed yet another year in good health and that you are proud of him / her? Is it?

This blog post is a reproduction of my blog written for Parent Edge, one of India’s leading parenting magazines.

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