Much as it pains me to admit, I really owe Himself a huge debt of gratitude for fortuitously ensuring I'd be pregnant, not once but twice, during the hot Texas summers. Mind you, it starts 'warming up' by the end of April. Instinctively, my man knew that I was not a woman cut out to host kid-centric parties. The thought of a marauding horde of mini-mes breaching the gates of our castle gives me the hives. I'd rather be decapitated with a grapefruit spoon. Playdates (and just who the hell coined THAT term, anyway?), where the Co-Defendant to friend ratio has historically been 1:1, is my limit. Go ahead, call me a sissy; I'll wear that moniker with pride.
It's difficult enough to come up with new and innovative gift ideas for my own offspring, let alone anyone else's. Sadists will throw out the 'no gifts, please' comment just to watch the unbelieving masses squirm. Who're they trying to fool? I'm operating under the assumption that my or my child's mere presence at a juvenile soiree just ain't gonna cut it for the birthday child, thank you very much. The 'gifts optional' route is no better. Does anyone really take the word optional seriously?
"We want her to have friends', Dear Hubby intones from his throne (the leather one, not the porcelain one). "Send a gift!" Right-o, old chap!
My children, especially The Diva, whine occasionally about the millstone that is their summer birthday and how it's just not fair they don't get to star in an over the top birthday production complete with bouncy house, clowns twisting anemic balloons into bizarre animal shapes and a miniature pony (I shit you not). My response never varies. "Look, Sunny D and a cookie cake during the school year *at school* is the absolute best I can manage. Take it or leave it."
I know that sounds heartless, but my birthday is January 1st. Was I in school when my birthday rolled around? No. Did classmates ditch winter vacation plans to come to my party? No. Have I suffered any ill effects? Only if you count the fact that I'm a registered Democrat. Otherwise, no. Face it, do you really think the Joneses are going to forgo that sunny trip to the Bahamas just so little Dick and Jane can come to my kids' party? Would you? Um...no.
When all else fails and their lower lip sags so low I could practically turn them into upright vacuum cleaners, I appeal to their greedy grub-grabbing inner selves.
"Okay, I'll go all out: bouncy house, rent out the gymnastics place or even (God help me) cross the threshold of a Chuck E. Cheese's for you and 5000 of your closest friends so long as you understand this translates into fewer presents from Mom and Dad."
Ding-ding-ding! A family party it shall be!