When I Was a Kid We Had Cake on a Paper Plate, Hawaiian Punch Straight Up and We Loved It

…we didn’t even have juice boxes.

Today is a first for Caitlin. It’s the first birthday party she’s attended at one of those super bounce zone on steroids party emporiums. That’s right, I’ll be watching my child jump in her sock feet with a ton of other kids on the Sabbath and praying that she doesn’t break her leg or jab another kid in the eye with her elbow while I sip on Sprite and wish I had a glass of wine to calm my nerves. Speaking of broken bones, it’s also the first birthday party invitation she’s received that includes a legal waiver so we can’t sue the place in case of injury. Awesome.

All kidding aside, she has been talking about this party for two weeks and it’s hard not to get caught up in it. We’ve been discussing her party attire and the invitation is prominently displayed on the refrigerator.

When did children’s birthday party options become so overwhelming? Everything is bigger, louder, showier, obnoxiousier. I call it the Chuck E. Cheese effect. From tea parties to dress up as diva rock star parties to meet ups at the local zoo parties, you can plan pretty much any type of birthday event.

For my sixth birthday party I had a big Snoopy theme swimming party at our backyard pool. But other than that, I don’t remember any huge event or theme parties. Honestly a big deal for the rural town I grew up in was a party at the skankier than a truck stop restroom roller skating rink.

We’ve always had her parties at home, but for Caitlin’s 4th birthday last year we went to a local pizza place with a party and game room. It was pretty nice to not clean icing from our berber carpet. Right now she’s keeping her birthday party wishes for this summer simple. She wants a pool party, but I’m trying to steer her toward a party at our local park playground because the thought of supervising young children at a public pool is enough to make me hyperventilate. As is the thought of wearing a bathing suit in front of her friends’ parents.

Oh, yeah and she’s got her heart set on Jon Bon Jovi being there.

Suddenly the super bounce zone on steroids party place is lookin’ real good.

Updated to add: A friend just e-mailed me this link to a news story about parents turning against “Birthdays Gone Wild!” Of course, with a headline like that, it’s from Fox News.


  1. Bluegrass Mama says:

    LOL at the Jon Bon Jovi invite.

    Our son has a summer birthday, so we almost always did his party outside in the yard. Our daughter is January, so it got a little trickier. I think he had one “off-site” party and she’s had three, but even most of hers have been at home.

    I cut the whole party thing off at 12, so we are now FINISHED! (Except for that brilliant idea of saying that maybe she could have a sweet 16–I think she’s going to spend the next 4 years planning it).

  2. Dawn says:

    Hilarious and scary.

    My best birthday memory was 13 and inviting girls and BOYS! I really wanted Rex Smith or Leif Garrent there but Mom couldn’t arrange it so we compromised on all the neighood boys that were a full head shorter than me. Oh Joy!

  3. Blonde Mom says:

    The bounce party place was actually really nice and she slept the entire way home. They had rented out half the facility for a private party so there were only about 20 kids! That’s the way to go, although that’s not the cheapest route.

    I pushed the park/playground idea for her afterwards, because she has a summer birthday and her friends can play outside. Hello Kitty seems to be the going theme.

    That’s the joy of being 4. You always are thinking of the next party.

  4. Charla says:

    How funny you post this just as I finshed printing out Chase’s 5th b-day invites…for his “jump house” party. We don’t have a jump park here in podunk (yet), but a very good family friend is in the inflatable business. We’ve reserved 2 (maybe 3) of his slides/houses, and we’re creating our own park in my school’s gym. The good? kids are not at my house!! The bad? We’ve got to haul in tables and chairs because the gym is, well, a gym! I hope it will be a hit, because it’s his first party I’ve allowed him to invite his “friends” to. (we’ve always stuck to family parties, waiting for that magic year 5 to arrive)
    Oh, and it’s Star Wars for us AGAIN this year…

  5. Rachel says:

    Don’t ask how I found your blog – but it is awesome! I am a new mom – my little one is almost 9 months old so I can totally relate to your stories. I grew up in the Nashville area and am getting ready to move to Franklin. I look forward to reading your blog in the future.

  6. Oma Flinger says:

    I went with LB and Mrs. Flinger last month to see all the excitment you mentioned. You are correct, after one hour, it wears them out. Gotta love that.

    “it’s also the first birthday party invitation she’s received that includes a legal waiver” Now that there is funny!!!

  7. RichieAnn says:

    There was an interesting article on this subject in our paper today. It said that there were backlash of parents disgusted by the oneupmanship parents feel in regard to birthday parties these days. This group started a website and group called Birthdays Without Pressure. Go ahead and Google it.

  8. Erin says:

    I hear you- it’s also the “sweet sixteen effect”- my stepdaughters are about to turn 15 (the latin equivalent of sweet 16/bar mitvahs)and we are already worried about the cost! if they were in the states, it would be outrageous! when i was a kid, having a birthday party at mcdonalds was HUGE (or Chuck E. Cheese). Having a cake with some kind of cartoon on it was HUGE!

  9. Belle says:

    lol…SORT OF…since I am in the throws of the up coming Sweet 16 Pink & Green party fest preparation…and we just recovered from our LAST (last, I tell ya) party thrown at Chuck E “we sell beer for a reason” Cheese! DS1 wants a paintball party in January…whooohooo, lets bruise and batter all your friens for fun and profit! (((hugs)))

  10. Local Gyms says:

    Barthday parties are always difficult for me to manage but your ideas about the birthday parties is great and it will help me to manage the parties to it is a great blog i liked it.

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