The end of an era: Themed birthday parties

I’m not sure who enjoys birthday parties more: me or the kid that is being celebrated.

I’m the kind of mom that has always thoroughly enjoyed planning birthday parties; I simply can’t understand moms that get stressed out over kid party planning. I love creating cute invites, baking themed cakes, brainstorming party games, booking fun venues. I love going on the requisite shopping spree at the party store, picking out fun napkins and plates. I love stuffing the car trunk with balloons and festooning our home with streamers. I love seeing all the kids gathered around the table and watching my kid blow out the birthday candles.

I’ve done (lots of) Lego, Star Wars, Circus, Bob the Builder, Nerf, and Teletubbies themed parties. Not only have we always had a kid’s party, but also an extended family party as well as an intimate family party. Yep – that’s three parties! Childhood is fleeting, and what can I say, I love celebrating!

But mid-February, when I asked my March birthday boy: “What kind of party would you like this year?” he paused for a moment then said, “Mom, this year I just want a family party. And I want to have some of my friends over during my birthday week. But no special friends party this year.”

My reaction: “?????!!!!!!”

My son is turning double digits. He doesn’t have that one and only intimate circle of (mostly mom-managed) friends like he did when he was a tot. Now he’s forging his own friendships: he’s got friends at school, old friends and neighborhood friends. He explained that it would be next to impossible to get all these people into our house for a party – and that besides, he just loves his family party most of all.

I’ve also noticed that most of his friends have tapered off the kiddie birthday party thing. One of my friends held a last hurray to kiddie birthday parties this year – she’s stopping at age 10 with them, too – and hired a snake charmer to entertain the kids.

And so it is: The era of the themed birthday party for my son has come to an end. I guess I couldn’t expect that he’d have Thomas the Tank Engine and LEGO parties well into his teens. Instead this past weekend our large family gathered to celebrate with a dinner party, the menu chosen by the birthday boy.

I still found myself stuffing the birthday balloons in the car, I still baked his cake of choice, and I still caught myself bursting with joy upon watching him make his wish and blow out his candles. Now the question is: How did these past 10 years fly by so darn fast?

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