A recent conversation in our home went something like this:
Mom to one of the children, “Honey, it’s almost your birthday, what kind of cupcakes do you want me to make for your school treat?”
Child “Can I bring a goody bag?” Goody bags are the latest trend at school right now. It seems that for just about any occasion: birthday, Halloween, Valentine’ day, President’s Day, if it’s a “day” many of the moms make goody bags oozing with all kinds of delectable pieces of junk that end up in my trash can as I make the nightly rounds which consist of peeling sticky, colorful lizards off walls, digging bouncy balls out of dusty corners and detaching stickers and gum off of filthy clothes. I can’t be the only mom who detests this stuff.
Mom, “No dear, I’m not spending a hundred dollars on junk. What kind of cupcakes do you want?”
Child, “Can I bring donuts?” Donuts, another popular peer pressured birthday craze at my kids school and I’m not talking about a package of donut holes, I’m talking about full fledged, cream filled, long johns brought in for every child, teacher, aid, secretary, and principal.
Mom sighing, “No, I’m not spending thirty bucks on donuts for everyone. I asked you what kind of CUPCAKES do you want?”
Child two listening in the other room decides to inadvertently help child one’s case and in the process set himself up for the following month when his birthday rolls around with this supportive statement/passive suggestion, “Todd (fictitious name) brought in KING SIZED candy bars for the whole class on his birthday.”
Mom, “That’s nice, Todd must be really loved by his mom and dad but that’s not how it works in our family, my beloved children get to pick whatever kind of cupcakes they want.”
Child two snickers at my sarcasm; he understands the attempt at incorporating a little humor into the situation; however, child one is a little confused about what makes that funny.
Child one, sensing my impatience and exasperation at this point finally makes a decision, sort of, “Can I have half chocolate and half white?”
Mom, “No dear, pick a flavor.”
Mom, “What kind of frosting?”
Child, “Can I have half pink and half purple?” Child sees my look and knows it’s over, “I’ll just have pink”
Mom, “With sprinkles on top?”
Child, “Yes, please.”
Seriously, the Treaty of Versailles peace resolution had to have been an easier conversation than the one I just held with this child.
Now, you can’t blame a kid for trying, especially in this day and age, but the way we are raising our kids seems to often border on encouraging some extremely narcissist attitudes. Kids are special, kids are fabulous, but seriously, every child is not next in line for the throne of England. This parental game is annoying to me; especially with 7 little ones who compare everything that they don’t get to what all their friends do get at school. We’ve been to birthday parties where the parents have rented out the bowling alley ($200 – food not included) the roller skating rink ($100 – food not included) the gymnastics room (I have no idea how many dollars but I’m sure not cheap) for the entire class. I’m not willing to pay $1400 a year for my kids to have a birthday! In our family, it’s simple. On your birthday you get a day of fame which includes picking out whatever you want for dinner, no questions asked, picking out whatever dessert you want, opening presents from your parents and some of your 19 grandparents, and last but not least, you get to pick out one flavor of cupcakes and one flavor of icing – Happy Birthday To You.
I refuse to play the game of who does it best because I simply don’t care and my kids are no worse off for it. Honestly, I think that they actually respect me for sticking to my guns, and I hope in the process I teach them to stick to whatever they believe in. They know their mom is not a sucker for peer pressure and in my perfect plan for how this all turns out, I hope that in turn creates children who can stand up for themselves in the face of some hard decisions that they will have to make someday and if nothing else, it teaches them that they single handedly do not make the world go round. They are a small piece of the Ronne family puzzle and an even smaller piece of the puzzle in the realm of humanity, and the sooner they sort through that immense concept, the sooner, I believe, we all will have a more compassionate, sympathetic, and manageable world for us mothers to raise our children in. They are also learning the value of a dollar through this small annoyance of mine and how we shouldn’t and don’t waste our money on silly things that will end up in the trash when there are much bigger things we should be spending our money on, for instance, starving children. Once a year these 7 little human beings receive the small but not insignificant act of their mom taking some of her valuable time to make them dinner, dessert, and whatever flavor cupcakes their little hearts desire – hopefully that translates into love for them.
Just keep livin!!