I was going to blog about the trip, but then decided to first write about something else. Which is, public reactions to our joint decision (mine, S's and Ads') not to hold a birthday party for him this year. Why did we do this? There are several reasons. From my experience of several kids including mine over the years, what kids like most about birthday parties is a) the gifts and b) the cake. Everything else - the balloons, the games, the friends - in my humble opinion, is the .....err........icing on the cake. If I held a birthday party in the park, with no cake (Californian-style folks, only vegan snacks! It's happened!) and a no-gifts policy (again, we've been there), is the child going to love it? Nope! I believe, very very strongly, that birthday parties are nothing but ego-boosting exercises. The child gets to feel he is the center of the universe, however briefly. It's a feel-good thing. What is wrong with that, you say? Absolutely nothing! I like birthday parties, when they are someone else's and not my child's (or my own, for that matter!). I want my child to feel special on the day that is far more special for his parents than for him. I want to buy him gifts to demonstrate my gratitude to him for coming into our lives. But do I need to have a big bash to do this? Not at all. So, this year, Ads will have a cake to cut in the evening after dinner. We will all sing happy birthday. He has already been bought tons of gifts and may get a couple more this weekend. He has new clothes. He feels special. He is very very special and he knows it and I want him to understand that having a party will not make him more special. In fact, having a party will add nothing to his birthday experience except a few photographs, and, let's face it, a lot of gifts that he won't like anyway.
So, after all this rambling, what is the point I am making? The point is - I want Ads to understand a few things from a very early age, and I think this decision will allow him to think about some pretty fundamental stuff. At 6, I think he is old enough and mature enough to appreciate these arguments.
1. He does not need to follow the herd. Just because everyone else has a birthday party, does not mean you have to have one too. Yes the active encouragement to dispense with the party was mine but we have been talking about it with him for the last two months. In point of fact, I was mentally prepared for him to reject our proposal and had already made a guest list for the party. The turnaround and the choice was entirely his, and I am very very proud of him today.
2. Birthdays should be about gratitude and reflection. Not about acquisitiveness and show-iness. I've been told that Ads is too young to understand this now, but don't we always underestimate our kids and what they can and cannot understand? I have myself been guilty of this several times. Does Ads "get" it? Maybe, maybe not. Is he "beginning to get" it? Yes, he is. 6 years of having me as a mother has to have had some effect!
3. Make informed and considered choices. This is really a corollary to point#1 above. Any decision that he takes must be dictated by reason. Emotional reasons - hey, that's an oxymoron! More fundamentally, he needs to understand that most of the time, he will have a choice. It's up to him to exercise it.
So, I was talking about public reactions. Gasp! You are not having a party? He is too young for this! Paavom! All I can do is shrug my shoulders. This is an active parenting choice I make, like so many other less unpopular ones :( I want my child to grow up with certain values. Having parties every year goes against those values. Having said that, will I deny him a party if he really really wants one next year? No way. If that's how he wants to celebrate his birthday, I am all for it. I am grateful to him for giving me the chance to demonstrate my opinion this year. Next year, if he says "Amma, your principles are utter rubbish and I think I'm better off with a party", well then, atleast he has thought about it and I am happy to bow to his decision.
I didn't have parties as a kid. There was one for my 1st birthday. I requested one for my 10th birthday and another for my 18th. I had fun on both. I had fun on all the other years when I didn't have parties too. The same goes for S.
I suspect that another reason that Ads capitulated this year was that with all the moves, he doesn't have a few really good friends that he wants to invite home for his big day. Last year in Noida, the party was at home. He had a couple of good friends and he did have fun playing with them. Now those kids aren't around and he is mature enough to realize that they made all the difference.
If you are going to comment, please I beg you, don't be a naysayer! I don't want to hear it :(( I'm getting enough grief from other quarters for this decision anyway! But if you think I did right, then do comment :)