Party Politics

I’m not talking about the Presidential primaries. I’m talking about something a lot more stressful: Jackson’s birthday party.

I actually like parties – well, I like throwing parties. But my house is not made for indoor parties. We have a weird floor plan. Outdoor parties, we can do – we have a huge backyard, especially by California standards. But we do not have much contiguous space inside. Therefore, Jackson’s birthday parties cannot be at home.

I don’t abide by the “invite as many children as the birthday boy is old” crap. My son has friends. He should be able to invite them to his party. For his 3rd, 4th, and 5th birthdays, we invited everyone in his class at preschool, which pretty much meant we invited the preschool, plus a few friends we had outside of preschool. This year, we’re having his party at “The Lego Place” (not its real name), which comes with a limit on how many children can attend.

Now, I practically begged the boy to choose to go to Safari West and get his picture taken with a cheetah. But he didn’t want to, especially after we learned that at least two organizations enable a person to adopt, or sponsor, a cheetah. Upon learning that, Jackson wanted to adopt a cheetah (more on that in another post) and I suggested that we ask people who would normally get him a present to contribute to the adoption fund, and that lead him to decide he wanted a party.

For months, Jackson talked about who would be invited. I told him not to talk about it at school, and he says he didn’t. There were more and more names popping up. In the last days of Christmas break, we made the list. He came up with 10 people without breaking a sweat. Then he stopped. Now, I know my son had mentioned other kids, so I looked at his class picture.

Me: “Didn’t you say you work with This Boy all the time?”

Jackson: “Oh yeah. Invite him. And then we have to invite This Other Boy, because they’re friends.”

Me: “And didn’t you say you wanted This Guy?”

Jackson: “Yeah, This Guy. And His Sibling, because His Sibling is in my group.”

I did the prompting because, a) I didn’t want him to get back to school and say, “Oh yeah, we should have invited So-and-So”, and b) because I didn’t want him to leave anyone out if he didn’t have to. We had a number of people we could invite, and I wanted to go with that.

Then we realized we forgot 2 people we play with on a regular basis. One of my high school friends still lives in the Bay Area and she has 2 daughters, and it seems the only time we get to see each other is at birthday parties, so…  Jackson chose to invite them, though. I didn’t force him to invite anyone.

Which brings me to the most stressful part. There’s a boy that Jackson has a love/hate relationship with. Sometimes they get along famously, sometimes they fight like only 5-year old boys can. (As far as I can tell, it’s just because of their personalities. One boy isn’t to blame.) In our most recent encounters, they fought. Jackson preferred not to invite him. I’m friends with his mom. Other people she knows are being invited. I tried to explain this to Jackson as best I could without using guilt. (My mother was the master of the guilt trip and I do not want to lay that on my kids.) He didn’t particularly care.

And the second most stressful part: There’s an age limit. I mean, we’re playing with Legos and they have planned activities. The Lego Place said we could invite younger children, but they’d be in a different area. So we decided not to invite children under age 4, which omits a couple of newer friends who I hope don’t feel too slighted.

Cassie’s birthday is in October, and around mid-October, it’s still warm in the Bay Area. She’ll be having the suburbs’ largest 1st birthday party at our local park. Hopefully, there won’t be too much stress associated with the guest list.

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