This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 5-year-old daughter, Viva, whose sex was revealed via human speech, as opposed to dyed baked goods.
Parents use to be so loveable. Building tree forts. Making bologna sandwiches. Worrying about things parents worried about, like heavy metal and the Russians. Their weary but joyful parental faces puffing on cigarettes as the kids rode Big Wheels off to the park to swear without being overheard.
Then came playdates, and mindfulness, and blogs, and Facebook and Pinterest. Now everything is self-conscious. Everything is planned to perfection. Every aspect of family life is broadcast and networked and vetted and dissected and commented upon. Modern parents (myself included and especially) are less concerned about deer ticks and Satan worshippers then they are about optics: Are the camps they’ve signed the kids up for a good balance of STEM and the Arts? Are the family holiday traditions charmingly folksy while still being tastefully secular? Are the cake pops cute enough for the measles party?
The worst part are the new celebrations: New ways for plugged-in parents to show off, grab gifts and weigh down every semi-sacrament with a burden of meaningfulness so heavy as to help sink a milestone deeper into emotional muck than the horse in “The Neverending Story.”
Here are five modern celebrations some parents are throwing that make the non-parenting world recoil in horror at the fussy, attention craving, would-be reality TV stars we’ve all become.
Gender reveal parties
Your friends love enforcing gender norms–it makes gift buying easier. If you’re having a girl, they can buy something that celebrates monarchical couture. If you’re having a boy, they can buy something that celebrates murder in outer space. What your friends don’t want to do is come over for pink or blue cake at your “Gender Reveal Party.”
First of all, that word doesn’t mean what you think it means. Sometimes “gender” is used interchangeably with “sex,” but more specifically it refers to “masculinity” and “femininity,” so unless you’ve found an ultrasound calibrated to “butchness” (“Look, you can make out his enormous belt buckle!”) what you probably mean is that you’re having a “Baby Sex Party.”
Baby Sex Party? That kind of talk can get you kicked off the CPAC speaker list. You should probably call what you’re having a “Fetal Gonad Revelation” party. “Fetal Gonad Revelation” is a groovy name for a Tommy James and the Shondelles song, but a terrible idea for a party.
It’s not a baby topping, it’s another terrible party. A baby sprinkle is a baby shower, but for your second kid, so smaller. We felt for you when you had your first child–you were excited, scared and either young and broke or just finishing your Masters and broke. Now you’re old and cynical and broke and shaking me down for gifts a second time. What am I supposed to buy that’s baby shower appropriate but more modest? Wipe warmers only come in one size and that’s my only idea.
Skip the baby sprinkle and give your second kid hand-me downs like you’re supposed to. If your baby wanted new stuff, they should have had the foresight to be born first.
This abomination was undoubtedly conceived by the diamond cartels or some other tentacle of “Big Marriage.” A “push present” involves buying your wife a gift for providing you the service of giving birth to your child. It turns the miracle of birth into a mercenary transaction. “Thank you for gestating my offspring, Partner. Your push present is next to the hospital bed.” Ugh. Plus, was there a possibility your wife was going to withhold birthing the child and not earn this gift you got her? Did she require an incentive for letting the fully grown infant out of her womb or did she see other options? At some point it’s going to come out, either with the doctor’s help or like that thing in “Alien.”
Bachelor parties are sordid affairs. Their success is generally measured by the amount of hotel rooms trashed, faces punched and extra-pre-martial sexual activity procured or otherwise obtained. Or, if you’re a square, you go to Dave & Busters. The gist of a bachelor party is: “You’ll never have fun again, so let’s have about 50 years worth of fun tonight or destroy our livers, whichever comes first.”
“Dadchelor parties” (DADCHELOR?! You KNOW I hate a bad portmanteau) are that, but for fatherhood. I’m not sure I even get it. What fun were you having as a married guy that you won’t be able to have as a dad? You’re pretty much already dead inside. Can’t you just be happy your kid is coming? Celebrating impending fatherhood like you’re having a last meal before boarding a tumbrel for the gallows is just too bleak a notion for me to entertain.
Baby naming parties
I’m not talking about traditional African Naming Ceremonies, Jewish Naming Ceremonies or the Hindu Naming Ceremony that takes place on the child’s twelfth day in the world. I’m talking about a new WASP shindig where you invite everyone over, probably serve cake that’s pink or blue inside, and then ask them to come up with possible names for your little zygote.
Here’s the deal, anybody having a baby naming party already knows they are going to name their kid “Jackson.” All kids born in the last ten years are named “Jackson.” Every Friday when my daughter asks me what we’re doing over the weekend, I say, “Going to Jackson’s birthday party.” I am always right. Everyone AT your dumb Baby Naming Party is just going to write down “Jackson” on a piece of paper, drink all your bourbon and then go home and criticize your decorating. Until such time as it stops being legally mandated that all children are named “Jackson,” just skip the party and just name your baby “Jackson” like a good citizen.
Don’t think I’m anti-parties. I am firmly pro-parties. They require no qualifications or gimmicky themes. So skip the fetal gonad talk, skip the birth remuneration swag and just have your friends over so they can drink all your bourbon and then go home and criticize your decorating, like decent parents have done for centuries.
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