It’s here- today is THE day, the one you and your freshly turned 6-year-old have been waiting for. Birthday party time! Your house is adorned with homemade decorations (unless you’re a third child or later, then sorry kid- that moment has passed), themed balloons, and a banner announcing your guest of honor’s age. Food has been prepared, cupcakes have been ordered. You’re patiently waiting for the guests you lovingly invited to arrive when… nothing happens.
Sure, maybe your aunts and uncles swing by for the free beer and cake, but as the clock ticks on, the knot in your stomach clenches tighter and tighter. Where are all the people who said they were “so excited to come!” when you gave them their invitation? Where’s the family you recently met at the school pickup line who happily RSVPd but apparently forgot to pencil your kid in? Okay, your bestie’s kids are sick- you get it. But you could’ve sworn they just posted 100 pictures at the zoo yesterday with another friend and her kids, didn’t they?
At this point, it’s not about the food or the decor. It’s about the crestfallen look on your previously ecstatic birthday kid’s face. It’s about the effort you’ve put into getting to know other families more and inviting them to join in on the celebration of the person you love the most- your child; just for them to bail last minute, leaving your kid hanging with Meemaw and Peepaw in the jump house (and Meemaw had six kids, so you know she’s not the most enthusiastic jumper).
Thankfully, we’ve always had great neighbors and family to make it to our kids’ birthday parties, but not everyone is as fortunate. Some people don’t have family nearby and are depending on their kids’ friends to follow through with their RSVPs. Some kids only have a few playmates and each one that flakes on them whittles down the guest list ‘til there’s no one left.
Nobody wants that disappointment for their own kids, so next time you plan on skipping out on a birthday party just because you can’t stomach the thought of small talk with strangers, maybe reconsider. You might be the guest that makes a child’s birthday party the best day ever, rather than the worst.
I get it- our schedules are jam-packed these days, and adding another thing to do that doesn’t directly benefit us seems counterintuitive. But I promise it’s worth it to see the happiness on a birthday boy or girl’s face when their little buddy walks into the party ready to snarf down some pizza and whack the heck out of a poor innocent Minion piñata.
And parents, it’s not all bad- you might even make a new friend, too. Many of us seem to have lost the art of mingling and this is a great opportunity to dust off your interpersonal skills after the whole “Covid-Era”. Who knows, you might even be able to snag a mini Snickers or two out of a goodie bag for yourself on the way out!