What do you do for a four-year old's birthday?
Every parent faces this, right? Do we have a party or take them someplace special with a friend? If we have a party, who do we invite? How big should it be? Do we have to invite the whole class? Do we have to invite THAT kid? Do we have to invite that kid's PARENTS?
We are facing this now. Owen will be four in July. He's old enough to be fully aware of this. He knows the date and will tell you if you ask. At his age, birthday=party. They are the same, inseparable. It's not your birthday if there is no party. I'm already anticipating psychic chaos when we tell him his birthday PARTY is on a different day than his actual BIRTHDAY. His little mind might crack.
But once we're past that, and assuming he's still functional, what are we going to do? Owen and Nicholas are three years apart. Nicholas will turn one about a month and a half before Owen turns four. We're not going to have a big blowout for the one-year old. I mean, he has zero clue. He'll be stoked about cake and ice cream, as this child lives for food. Other than that, who are all these people, and why is that thing on fire?
But for Owen it's a different thing entirely. He's a birthday party connoisseur now. He's been to so many he could plan the fucking things. He has strong opinions, some of which he has expressed out loud, some simply through his actions. Here are some of Owen's rules, as I understand them, of what makes a proper birthday party:
- Bouncy house? Yes.
- Cool toys and stuff scattered around for everyone to play with? Yes.
- Open presents at the party? Yes (we'll fight him on this).
- Organized party games? No. Absolutely no. Get that parachute away from me, I'll show you where you can pin the tail, and why is that dude wearing makeup?
So at least we have some clear dos and don'ts if we go the party route.
But is a party the best idea? Parties are expensive, and messy, and stressful. Somebody will end up in tears. Probably one of the kids, and quite possibly also me. When it's over we have to clean up and manage our exhausted children who live in our house and don't leave at the end. We could do it at an indoor playground, but we've done this twice before. Owen seems almost old enough to graduate to the next level of pay-to-play fun, but I refuse to take a child to Chucky Cheese who will not eat pizza. We've told him this. He says he'll eat pizza when he's four. We'll see. We could go to a park, but it's mid-July in Los Angeles. If it's 100 degrees, nobody wins.
So that brings us to Plan B - amusement park with one or two friends. I happened to land four free tickets to Legoland through work. I've never been, but folks tell me it's a cool place for young kids - better in some ways than Disneyland (less commercial and more age appropriate, and hopefully less crowded). So we're thinking we might invite a friend or two of Owen's to come along and spend the day there instead of a party. We'd still do cake and presents and stuff with the family, but no big thing. Lisa floated this idea to Owen, and he was into it. But I'm not sure he understands this would be INSTEAD of a big party. We'll see.
Whatever we do, I'm sure he'll have a good time. And the truth is, he's four - is he really even gonna remember this birthday? I sure don't remember my fourth birthday. I don't really want to try and out-party his friend's parties, and ultimately I'm not sure anything can top our day at the LA Department of Sanitation Open House. The day he got to
Wish us luck with the birthday celebration. Whatever we do I expect you'll hear about it here before long.