Birthday Parties

Today is my son's eleventh birthday. I'll spare you the whole 'where does the time go' speech, but I assure you I'm thinking it.

He's a great kid – thoughtful, warm, bright and everything I could have hoped for in a son. I love him more than anything and he and his sister's are the world to me.

Happy Birthday Buddy. I love you.

To celebrate the event we had five of my son's buddies over for a sleep over yesterday. It went well and because my son has good, well behaved friends there were no problems.

I organized this event by talking personally to all the boy's Moms who were invited. I didn't send out invitations because we weren't inviting many kids.

I also didn't send out invitations because I didn't want to get involved in the whole 'who's invited and who's not' thing.

Is the whole birthday party invitation thing a big fiasco where you live too? Do the popular kids get invited to everything and the quieter kids sometimes get left out? How do you handle it?

My youngest wasn't invited to a large birthday party a few weeks ago but she wasn't upset as she didn't know the birthday boy that well. She's also fairly confident and happy-go-lucky so it really didn't faze her at all. I am blessed. There were tears though from some of her classmates who weren't invited, and some of the other Mom's were furious at the 'birthday kid's Mom' for handing out the invitations at school but not including everyone. Yep, words were exchanged.

I get the other parent's frustration and angst over their kid's disappointment but you know what? It's a kid's party. Not everyone is going to be invited, budgets just aren't always going to allow that.

Besides, shouldn't we be teaching our kids to handle disappointment and loss? Isn't that a life skill we need to teach them young? In real life you don't get a trophy just for showing up.

Which I grant you, is easy for the mother of the 'happy-go-lucky' one to say. My daughter wasn't in tears, but I wonder what I would have done if she was? I wonder if the Mama Bear in me would have come out then too. I hope not. But honestly? I wonder.


12 thoughts on “Birthday Parties

  1. Trying to figure out who to invite to the kids’ parties is tough, even now with young kids. When our daughter turned four we had a party and invited a number of friends with kids the same age. We also told Hana she could invite a couple of kids from her class…though she talked us into letting her invite three. Since I only know a couple of the parents through meeting them at daycare, we pretty much had to pass along the invitations by putting them in the kids’ cubbies.
    Anyway, the day I brought the invitations in, I saw one of the girls with her dad. I quietly handed the invitation and whispered that it was for Hana’s party and then we were just having a few of the kids from daycare come. My intent was to keep it hush-hush so that the other kids wouldn’t get upset if they didn’t get an invitation. So what does the dad do? He exclaims to his daughter, “Oh! Look honey…you got an EXCLUSIVE invitation! I guess you must be a special friend to get invited to the party!”
    GAH! Could’ve crawled under a rock right then and there.


  2. Yah, I’m definitely not into the “let’s pretend we’re super popular and leave people out” routine. Save that for high-school. Even if my kids end up being the popular kids and we DON’T invite everyone on the block, there’s a sensitive way to do it. (-;
    Way to go, TiredMamaSon for being so cooperative and well-mannered.


  3. Happy Birthday to your son! (It’s my mom’s b-day today too)
    Invitations can get sticky, but really it is completely unrealistic to think that everyone can invite everyone. It should be about the birthday child and those that they are good friends with, not impressing all the moms with how much you spend on the party.


  4. Our school has a policy that invites may only be handed out at school if the entire class is invited. Since we do not have the entire class at our parties, some kids we would like to invite do not get invited at all because I have no way other than the kids seeing each other at school to get an invite to their parents.
    Two of my three children figure that if they were really that chummy, then the birthday honoree would invite them. No big deal. Middle Child has had to learn that not everyone is invited to everything, and it is necessary to be gracious regardless of whether one is at the top of the guest list or left off of it entirely.


  5. Reading and taking notes here… I honestly don’t know how we’ll handle parties yet.
    We have a pool, and the girls b-days are a month apart in the summer. I was thinking about just having one big pool party each summer – it’ll be easier because their birthdays aren’t during the school year.


  6. It’s tough. I hate to see kids left out so for my daughter’s birthday parties (and she only started having them with friends when she turned 4) was to invite the entire class and last year she invited all of the girls. That said, we will be on tighter budgets going forward and I’m not sure what we’ll do. It’s not a huge extra expense to include a few extra kids thus sparing feelings but if the numbers jump alot then it’s impossible to spare everyone’s feelings. Aren’t these the moments when parents can teach life lessons??


  7. My daughters’ school does not allow invitations to be handed out at school to prevent hurt feelings. Yes, children need to learn to handle disappointment, but there is no need to flaunt it in front of them. It is like being with a group of adults and having someone say, “I am having a party and everyone but you is invited.” When my kids were young, I required them to invite all the girls in the class. My older daughter can invite who she wants. All invitations in our town are done by phone or mail since invitations are not allowed to go out through school.


  8. I’m glad to be past this stage.
    We used to rent an ice pad at the local arena and invite all Will’s friends (and their families) to come play hockey/skate for 1 1/2 hours, supplied pop and cake. It cost less than $100 in the end and there was no mess to clean up at home!


  9. this drove me crazy when i taught 1st grade for 7 years…
    it was kind of an “unwritten rule” that we don’t hand out invites at school and that if there was a party coming, i’d have to stick it in the kids’ folders…. how many times would the bday kid forget to give it to me in time or yell across the room “hey—–open your folder!” it was a pain.
    i do think kids need to know they aren’t always going to be included in everything. but the way our school was setup, it was pretty obvious the same kids over and over wouldn’t be a part b/c of where they came from.
    luckily, littlebean has a summer bday and i can only invite the people we want when we want.
    double luckier- The Mr. and i both agree that we’re not big into big parties. especially the early ones will be just fam coming for cake.


  10. Happy Birthday to your son! I am glad he had a wonderful party 🙂
    As for the birthday stuff…it is so hard! I remember being in 9th grade and being one of the only people not invited to Maggie’s birthday party. This was very hard for me (being 14 didn’t help) and I was crushed for a long time. I understood back then that Maggie couldn’t invite everyone (my mom said this over and over) but when you are a teen, trying to fit in, you always wonder…”why not me?”
    I use to teach 2nd and 3rd grade and we had a rule that you couldn’t bring in invitations to school unless you were going to invite the entire class or the entire group of your sex (ex. if you were a boy…all the boys in the class). We also had a classroom rule that we never spoke of birthday parties during our share time. This was a hard rule to follow but it really did prevent a lot of tears and heartache during morning meeting.
    Birthday parties are a touchy subject and though my son is only 2 (we have done family parties the last two years), I know I will be facing this issue next year when he turns three. I once heard that you invite the same number of kids as the age the child is turning…that means he could have three friends next year 🙂 Between his “friends” at playgroup and whoever he meets next year at school….I am sure it will be next to impossible to only invite 3 children 🙂 We shall see!


  11. We are hypersensitive in trying to protect our children. Rather than protect them it makes them unaccustomed to disappointment…and life is full of it. Invitations can be sent to our school and the teacher places them in the child’s backpack along with all the other items being sent home from school. Certainly we are sensitive to those who are not invited …it isn’t flashed about but it also doesn’t have to become a huge ordeal or scene.
    Everyone has to learn early on that there will be events we are not included in. I say shame on the parent who makes a big deal about it and actually has words with another parent on whether or not their child was included or excluded…that is the individual who should hang their head in shame. What a terrible example being set. I can not imagine making a comment to any parent on the fact that my child was not included.


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