Thursday, March 4, 2010

One Man's War Against The Brithday Industrial Complex

Call me old-school.

Call me cheap.

Don't call me indulgent, however.

My wife and I had a discussion about my children's upcoming birthdays (8 and 5). I want to start off with saying that my not knowing the EXACT date of one of the birthdays (I was off by a few days) has no reflection on my parenting skills... probably.

I think we should skip to the pressing topic at hand, Destination Birthdays. My son wants to go rock climbing with his crew to a local indoor rock climby place. Oh, I've been there once (yes, this is a testimony to how klutz proof rock climbing is when I can go and not hurt myself) and it's a great place. It's just you, faux rocks, gravity, and most importantly safety lines. My wife has brought the children there and Will (currently 7) saw a birthday party going on. He asked if he could do the same thing for his next birthday and my wife said yes.

There are several problems here. One, I don't want my children to become the typical stupid, entitled, materialist Americans. I have a system in place to prevent this... me saying no. The system in action goes something like this, "Dad, can I have a (insert any expensive item that a child wants but doesn't need)." I will use my standard response, "No, you have lots of (insert similar stuff) and more importantly you should be happy with what you've got. A lot of kids don't have that..." Depending on how crotchety I feel the speech goes on.

So, in the midst of this Great Recession (I know it's officially over, but the unemployment rate still hovers around 10%) I feel it's particularly important to give the message that money is NOT a renewable resource, like the sun or the wind. And if nothing else I believe in Birthday Fundamentalism, "When I was growing up, I only had a sheet cake, candles, and rusty nails and I liked it!" (Don't knock the rusty nails; they were good to suck on.) Anyways, my kids have it much better than I did because they get a pinata to smack the Hell outta. Nothing is more funny to watch than a bunch of kids beating a pinata. It's even funny when sober though I recommend it with a few beverages in you.

So what's going to happen? I'm not vetoing the rock climbing trip, though I am sending a strong message that it's back to the backyard and pinata next year.


  1. When Lan was younger I loved destination birthday parties, and partly for selfish reasons. It's a lot less work for the parents, and not much more expense. And you can have just a few kids, as opposed to a backyard party, where you may have a ton of kids. I admire trying to make your kids appriciate what they have, and not being to indulgent, but birthdays are special and a big deal. Being super special and a little spoiled one day a year won't undo all the great parenting you and Karen do the rest of the year.

  2. Oh yeah, I know I'm in the minority on this.

  3. Haha, just discovered your blog today and reading through your parenting stuff. So funny. I'm definitely on board with your no-saying and minimalist buying for holidays and so on. I hate the idea of the kids feeling like all celebrations are to be tied in with spending money. Love and family and friends are free :) - atheist lady and mother of 2


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