Okay, I have a question for you crazy kids. Girlfriend’s birthday party is tomorrow. We ended up inviting 23 children. We would have invited 24, but I neglected to mail one of the invitations. Oops. (Seriously, it was a mistake. I had nothing against this kid coming, but it’s a little late to invite him now. Well, I suppose it’s not, technically. I could drive over to his house and tape the invitation to the front door or something. Is it ruder to invite someone less than 24 hours before the party starts or to not invite them at all? I suppose when I put it that way, it’s clear that I should drive over to his house and tape the invitation to the front door, but I dunno, just something about that plan screams, a) “Weirdo!” and b) “There are already 16 positive RSVPs and wouldn’t you rather just feel really guilty afterward???”) Anyway. As I mentioned in the parenthetical aside, there are at least 16 children aged 5-6 coming to this party. No, I am not prepared. I’m not remotely prepared. But it could be worse. I’m going to start a new paragraph rather than dwell on this point any further.

Positives about this party: 1) It’s at my MIL’s house, not mine. 2) It could possibly make my daughter happy. I might even say probably, except that life is unpredictable, and I try not to have expectations. 3) …. Well, those first two should be good enough. Especially since we’re not talking any more about the negatives!

Except for this one thing, and this is just a general children’s-birthday-party complaint: Goody bags. (Here’s where you should be envisioning Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man character from Saturday Night Live while you read.) I hate ’em! In my day, you got invited to a birthday party and you brought the host a present. They weren’t expected to give any to you. They already invited you for cake and ice cream and a rip-roarin’ good time, and that’s all you had. That’s the way it was, and we liked it! We LOVED IT! Nowadays you have to send every guest home with a bag of loot to remember you by, but why? WHY????? (I’m not channeling Dana Carvey anymore, I’m just being myself. Envision me as you will.) It isn’t just that I resent having to spend money and time on goody bags for my kids’ party guests–although it’s certainly mostly that–but it’s also partly that I think it’s just a stupid practice in the first place. I hate it when my children come home from parties with goody bags–it’s all just sugar sugar sugar or cheap Oriental Trading Company crap that clutters up my house, not to mention the earth, and you kids know I don’t even care about the earth that much–so if I’m concerned about the environmental impact of something, doesn’t it stand to reason that it must be evil? And yet I don’t dare buck the goody bag trend. I’m anti-social, but my husband isn’t it, and since he generally does the lion’s share of party-managing, I suppose I have no place to complain…except that I seem to always get put in charge of goody bags, and I hate ’em!

Can you tell I haven’t figured out how I’m going to fill these stupid goody bags without making me hate myself? What do you think would happen if I just didn’t do it? If I just sent children home empty handed–what would people think? What would YOU think, gentle readers?

Here’s another thing: I got a RSVP from someone who wondered if the invited guest’s two siblings could possibly tag along. This isn’t an unusual request. I have certainly had it before. And in the past I’ve said, “Sure, why not?” because I just…can’t…say…no. Even when it’s a Pump It Up party and you have to pay extra for extra guests. Because…just because I can’t say no. I’m that way. But I had to say no today because there are 16 (possibly 16+) children coming to this party, and I just couldn’t bear the thought of two more children, and I had no idea how old these extra children were, but I couldn’t envision a scenario in which two extra children would work for me at all. Older children–might get bored and cause trouble. Younger children–might start missing their mommy and crying. I don’t know. Just–no. I couldn’t deal with it. So I very kindly and self-abasingly said, “Sorry, but no.” I’m okay with it. I thought the world would crack open, but it hasn’t. Yet.

It’s just this–in a million years, it would never occur to me to ask someone–especially a stranger, but not even a person I knew–if it would be okay for my kid’s siblings to come along to the party that only my one kid was invited to. Never, not in a million years. And it’s not like the practice is unusual–apparently–but it would still just never occur to me. Ever! I figure that if you wanted more kids than just the one, you would have specified on the invitation “Kid 1 plus Guest(s).” You know, like when you invite someone to a wedding and they’re expected to bring a date. But that never happens with children’s birthday parties, and so I always assume that “Kid 1” means “Kid 1” and not “Kid 1 (unless there are any more like him at home–wink wink!).” Seriously, am I just old-fashioned, or is this kind of weird? I wouldn’t even call it rude because it’s just so weird to me that the question of rude or not seems beside the point.

It frequently comes up with parents who have to work. I understand that parents have jobs and jobs are important, and I don’t expect anyone to take time off work to take their kid to a birthday party, but the thing is…weren’t you going to work even if your kid wasn’t going to a birthday party? Who was going to watch all of your kids before one of them got invited to a birthday party? Or had you not reasoned it out that far yet? Do you see what I mean? Weird. Or am I just insensitive?

I don’t know. I have to go grocery shopping before it’s time to pick Girlfriend up from school. Wish me luck, amigos. I’ll see you on the flip side.

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