I woke up sweating. Looked around and was so glad to be back in my room. This was the second time I was having a similar nightmare. Red blue and purple balloons sniggering at me. Clowns chasing me. Little spidermen flying around tossing little birthday cakes everywhere and a fire breathing Barney!
It was that time of the year again. My son's birthday was coming up and I had to organise the party and it was stressing me out. In India birthday parties these days are becoming a huge affair. It is like celebrating a wedding. In my view it is becoming more of a social pressure and a very commercial affair. The décor, the activities and the return gifts are so elaborate. The costs of hiring a hall and the catering are sky high. Especially in a place like Mumbai where space is a constraint and holding a party at home is not very convenient.
Parents seem to be okay with spending all that money for a birthday party and the choices available these days and the venue is vast. There are play areas, malls, amusement parks, pizzerias and what not for birthday parties. Then why am I grumbling? Isn't my job done? All I have to do is hire a birthday party organiser and choose a venue and everything else is taken care of. So why worry, why all these nightmares. I worry because I am against these types of celebrations and against spending so much on a birthday party. I do not want to bring up my son in a world so commercial, but I don't think I have a choice. He sees his other friends celebrating grand and elaborate birthdays and he will definitely feel left out.
I loved the parties organised by my parents and my friends' parents. They had such a nice feel and a personal touch. They were always at home with nice music and simple but delicious food. The games we played were arranged by us or our parents. I remember, the theme of one of my parties was treasure hunt and I had such a fun time planning the entire hunt. It got me creative and it got me thinking. The food was home cooked and tasty (though I am sure my mother slogged a lot over it). I was also lucky that my mother used to bake my birthday cakes and they were so yummy. She would make any shape or design I wanted. And my friends would be so impressed with my mothers' baking skills and I would be delighted (Of course, I would not be able to bake cakes like my mother for my son).
I feel that Birthdays these days are all about the money. How elaborate a birthday you can afford, how elaborate a return gift you can give. Something that should be fun for the kids has become more of a competition amongst kids and parents. It is not that I am keeping my purse under lock and key or that I don't want to give my son a good time but I also don't want to forget all the nice things and the fun we can have without making it elaborate and an expensive affair. I don't see the point of spending so much for a birthday party. However, some parents may totally disagree with me and would love to give their children a huge party and I have absolutely no problem with that. They have the right to celebrate their children's birthday in a way that they would love to.
I would like to keep my son's birthday simple and sweet. I would like to invite his friends' home, play the traditional games like tail the donkey, musical chair, memory game and passing the parcel. My son on the other hand has other plans, he would like to take his friends out to a farm where they can spend the day petting animals and feeding them. He also does not mind an overnight camp and he is only turning six. Thank god for me my daughter is still too little to tell me what her birthday wishes are but the time will soon come when I will be planning two birthdays soon and probably having more birthday nightmares. Until then I better see how I can please my son as well as hold on to my purse strings.
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