Friday, March 6, 2009

Birthday season begins

Z.'s long-awaited fourth birthday was on Monday. I keep starting posts and not finishing them, so I'm going to resort to the random bullets form just to get it all out of my head:
  • Twenty-one kids, 16 of them three or four, the rest all younger siblings: this is because of the way that Z. falls at the exact midpoint of the very large group of kids at her school who will be entering kindergarten in the Fall of 2010. Last year I argued that she should be included in the youngest preschool class, instead of being kept in the infant/toddler program for a third year. That was one of the best advocacy moments I've had as a parent, with the greatest unforeseeable positive consequences, and if a crazily large fourth birthday party is the only downside, I say hooray. (This year, the class wound up split so that she's almost the oldest in her room, but the two older preschool classes spend a lot of their day together, so now she has new, slightly younger friends in her class but her slightly older friends from last year are still current.)
  • Despite how high it was on the overstimulation meter, the party was still a roaring success. When the parents are hitting it off and having a great time, you know things are going well. We used the bookstore, which has three levels, and it was very low-key. Storytime downstairs in the kids' section, freeplay in the reading nook on the second floor, crafts in the community room on the third floor. Kids could move on when they got bored, and it was fine. We paid for pizza, cake, balloons, favors (minimal), and paper goods. I think we spent more than we needed to on the paper stuff, but not too much. Otherwise, I feel like we did it well, for not much money, and minimal headache.
  • Z. made out like a bandit, of course. I've introduced a concept that I take seriously, which is that of the birthday season, which starts on your birthday and continues for a month afterwards. It's kind of like your birthday is the shiny, blazing head of the comet, and the season is its lingering, tapering tail. This works for me because I have a lot of birthday anticipation and post-birthday let-down, and I could see it going the same way with Z., and I don't want to live with her crashing.
  • Declaring it birthday season lets us ration the presents, and this is a HUGE advantage. Really, I think y'all should all copy me. She opened all of her grandparent and cousin presents while her grandparents and cousins were here, on the day of her party (the day before her birthday). She opened her parent presents on her birthday, plus the present from her favorite friend. The rest she's been opening one in the morning and one after school, and it means she's actually played with each one instead of discarding it in a frenzy of acquisition.
  • In theory, this would also let us pace ourselves on the thank-you notes, but we have let that slip and will probably do them all on the weekend.
  • The binky fairy came to our house on the night before Z.'s birthday. We didn't expect the binky fairy for another night, but Z. said she was ready. No more binkies for sleeping--until she was three she had a binky in her mouth every minute she wasn't in school. Last year we eliminated them except for sleeping and car trips, and in the Fall we let the car trips drop. Getting to sleep with them, and early-morning-still-in-bed use, these were the last regular holdouts. She still has one for the emotional emergencies we have recently dubbed cyclone feelings (post to come on these eventually, I hope) but it lives in the catch-all space that is my underwear drawer.
  • I mostly forgot about my labor and Z.'s NICU stay. I had a day or two of saying "hey, I think I'm better, no more PTSD," and then A. left a detail in a story that she would have edited out if I hadn't declared myself better, and I promptly crumpled. So not all the way better, but much, much, much further along the road. And learning that A. has been editing out details like that for years (it was about a mother and baby being separated)? I was terribly touched.
  • It snowed hard the night before Z.'s birthday, and her birthday itself was a snow day. The night she was born it was the same way. That was a good echo.


Magpie said...

Happy birthday!

And the spreading out the gifts is a great idea - though I'm a fan of the child opening the presents at the party, so that the other kids get to see their gifts opened. Doesn't work for a big party like yours was...

kathy a. said...

sounds like a fantastic party! way lots of kids, but yes, they all got to do various things in different spaces, and yes, it IS a great sign when the parents are all having fun!

i also like how you are handling presents. one of daughter's preschool parties got out of control, when she began grabbing presents as they came in the door and ripping them open. sigh. my son's party at the very end of kindergarten also had a bad present phenomenon -- he got kind of freaked out when it was present time and his boisterous friends crowded in on him. we had to call a time-out and move the kids back, but doing presents later would have been an excellent idea.

susan said...

Happy birthday, Z!

We have always talked about the Birthday Festival with Curious Girl (and in fact, with us, we have pre-birthday weekend activities, and post-birthday weekend activities, usually nothing more elaborate than announcing, "hey! it's a pre-birthday breakfast!" or "let's go for a post-birthday bike ride because that will make Mama happy"). But it just sort of worked out that Curious Girl was getting multiple birthday celebrations--celebrating her birthday in school with her classmates, having a party with friends at our house (one guest for each year she was turning); having a party with our best friends, most of whom also have kids of various ages; the monthly birthday recognition at our synagogue. It's a nice way to generally spread the happies out, you're right.

Christine said...

Happy Birthday Z! and happy 4th anniversary of parenthood S and A. I think of you guys this time every year, for a few days straight...

liz said...

Happy birthday!!

Jody said...

Happy birthday! It sounds like everything party- and celebration-related was a smashing success.

And hugs to you, S. And congrats to you and A -- four years of motherhood! Woot woot.