A Big Bah, Humbug to the Tiny Birthday Tyrant

Posted on April 16, 2011


Is it just me, or is something fundamentally wrong with children’s birthday parties as an institution?  How can an event meant to celebrate the life and birth of a child, result in the parents’ gin-soaked resolution not to have any more children?  Twenty years from now when America’s declining birthrate brings social security to a complete collapse, the elderly will riot in the streets, and Chuck E. Cheese will be the first to burn.

Hooray for the birthday boy!  A day when a child who hears video game beeps when adults speak, who rolls his eyes at his teacher, and has never eaten a vegetable in his life is celebrated and worshiped as though he were an injured war hero returning from battle.

The birthday boy chooses the seventeen activity party itinerary, stomps his feet when told soda-soaked pizza cake doesn’t exist, grits his teeth when any other kid wins a party game, and despite repeated coaching responds to every non-electronics present with a monotone, “Thank you.”

And if that birthday terror is capable of even one moment of self-conscious thought, one moment of introspection, he may ask himself what he has done to deserve so much praise and reward but will be unable to connect his good fortune to a single instance of positive behavior, leaving him to conclude he deserves celebration for no other reason than existence.

He is entitled, entitled, entitled to a celebration not because of kindness, obedience, or gratitude, but rather for his ability to breathe.

And as your birthday king sucks a deep breath of triumph, flares his nostrils, and surveys his kingdom of adult serfs, he realizes he could get used to being celebrated for doing nothing, and therein lie the seeds of a future dictator–or at the very least a kid who will never leave home.  A mini-dictator who has been biding his time, waiting for control of the military–or at least your checkbook.  And as soon as he has a chance he will suspend constitutional powers–put you in a home.

Are there good children?  Absolutely.  Give those kids two birthday parties a year!

And cancel all the others!  I don’t care what his birth certificate says, he will remain eight years old for the next ten years if that’s how long it takes him to graduate to nine!

Please share your birthday horror stories below.  Don’t bother mentioning the $60 a person Marriott champagne brunch for a five year old; I’ve already been to that party.
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Posted in: Columns