Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Clio turns 6, in pictures

Eleri Turns 4, in pictures

A letter to my future birthday-planning self

The girls have started planning their birthday parties. Tonight, in great detail, Clio described the "face cake" she would like to have, and Eleri has been putting items on her birthday wish list since, well, the day after her birthday.

 Enough time has passed that I am not so emotional about it, but this year, like last, the girls' birthday parties were a disaster. Not for them; and not, perhaps, in the end. Just for me. In the planning and the doing. And because enough time has passed, I both understand how trivial the "disasters" really were, and have forgotten just enough of it now to know I will forget completely by next year if I do not write this note to myself.

So here goes.

A letter to myself on the future occasion of my children's birthdays: 

Your children do not need a big event. They do not need a special venue or fancy invitations or to invite every child in their class. Your children very much want an event on (or as near as possible to) their actual birthday with a few of their favorite people. They want an event that celebrates them but does not pressure them. You can accomplish this by simply being thoughtful.

Your children know what they like to eat, and they sure like treats. They know what the party food should be, and how the cake should look, including the geometric angles at which the color-block frosting should meet. Listen to them.

Your children are not greedy, but when all of the presents are opened, they might look for more. Don't make them feel bad about it--it's no big deal. And if they don't love a present and don't hide it very well, just remember that you don't really want to teach them to lie anyway, and that your lessons in manners will sink in someday. It's okay if today is not that day.

Your children do not need a "big" present, from you or anyone else. When they are small, they do not know the relative (money) value of presents. But your children do like big gigantic things, and they very like teensy-tiny things. By all means give them presents at either/both ends of a physical or emotional scale, but leave the monetary one out of it.

Your children do not need fancy favors or decorations or matching anything. But someday soon, ask them if they would like a theme. Whatever it is (and it will probably be weird) ask them how they would like to decorate. Follow orders. Don't worry about all those beautiful parties you see on blogs, and give pinterest a rest--fun isn't often as pretty as all that.

Your children will want to spend time with all their friends, but they want you to celebrate, too. Go easy on yourself. The food doesn't have to be perfect. Nothing has to be perfect. Just make sure you are perfectly present. The only (other) perfection you should go for is in the way your child feels on this day, but do know that you can't control that. Don't be disappointed in them if they have disappointments this day, like any other.

Also. Maybe your photo-loathing children won't appreciate it now, but try to get a picture of your family on this day. Yes, all of you. More than anything else, they may thank you for that one day.

Sincerely, Yourself

p.s. If you want one practical bit of advice? With holiday-time birthdays and an unreliable school directory, next year, for goodness sake, send printed invites and follow up with phone calls a week before the event. If you thank me for nothing else, thank me for that one.