Birthday parties have come a long way since I was a kid. Today, they are elaborate productions complete with themes and catered meals. And when the kids reach their 16th birthday, they expect the soiree of a lifetime. My blood boils each time I watch the spoiled brats on MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16″ con their parents into throwing opulent, six figure parties.
When I was a kid, I was lucky to have a birthday party. They consisted of a few kids packed into our living room singing “Happy Birthday” while my mother served homemade birthday cake, a carton of Neopolitan ice cream, and Hawaiian Punch. Once, mom splurged and let me have a party at McDonald’s. The McDonald’s birthday party was really big deal – my rank among my peers rose quickly as they jockeyed for an invitation. At the party, we got some goofy birthday hats, a Happy Meal, a cake, and a flimsy plastic Ronald McDonald hand puppet, but we thought we were living the high life. If I suggested this type of party to my children, they would scoff.
My son, N, had his birthday party over the weekend. His actual birthday was in September, but Hurricane Ike forced us to reschedule the party. N, suggested several venues and themes before settling on a gymnastics party with a Power Rangers theme. N, is “Mr. Popularity” so he wanted to invite everyone that he has ever known. The guest list grew so long that we had to reserve the biggest room in the place. Instead of cake and ice cream, he requested brownies and pudding (if this combination becomes a birthday trend remember where you read it first). And Papa John’s thanked us for keeping their company afloat with our pizza order.
N and his friends enjoyed running, jumping and tumbling, and the coaches we hired stoked the kids’ excitement with a few high-flying stunts. I even had fun attempting to master the gymnastics apparatus. Let me say that doing an iron cross on the still rings is not as easy as the pros make it look, especially if you’re 38 and have never had any gymnastics training. Thank God for ibuprofen.
After the party, we had an after-party at our house, where N opened his gifts and hit the piñata. The piñata requires a separate post because of all of the drama associated with it. I’ll just mention that his sister said, “If you get him a piñata that means you don’t love me.”
All in all, N had a great time and I didn’t have to declare bankruptcy. He is already planning his next party. I’m taking donations now.