February 20th, 2008
Today is the Punksin’s birthday. I have to tell you, it all feels rather anti-climactic to me, given the whole blowout weekend we just had. I’m exhausted.
And I rebelled against sending her in with cake or cupcakes or cookies or anything this morning. I mean, come on. We just invited all these little twerps to her party on Sunday and now we have to recreate the festivities in the school building? No. If she’d had a family-only party or just a few friends, I could see. But every single one of those kids was invited, most of them showed up, and I’m done with them, okay? Now, today, on the anniversary of the momentous day itself, she will celebrate at home with us, get some more unnecessary presents in a low-key environment, and that should be enough.
I almost caved. I almost ran and bought cookies this morning for her to take in. But I stuck to my guns. This whole birthday madness has gotten way out of control and is so indicative of the fawning parenting that goes on these days. Growing up, I had one party. I could have had two, but when I turned 4 my mom bought me a cake and asked me if I wanted to take it to school or have it at home. Of course my first thought was take it to school but then it occurred to me that my mother would be home all by herself not celebrating and that made me sad. So we ate it at home.
I have never regretted that.
My next party was a surprise party when I turned 11. For some reason that I cannot really put into words to this day, the whole thing made me very sad and I went into a back room and cried. My family couldn’t understand why I was so down but to their credit, they let it be what it was.
That was it for parties, folks, until I threw myself one in college when I turned 21. Needless to say, there was lots of alcohol.
Now, I don’t want to inflict unnecessary hardship on my child. But she already has the diva complex – you should have seen her running around at her party, telling people “Okay, it’s time to sing happy birthday to me now!”
I was mortified.
I celebrate my daughter because growing up, my mother went in the completely opposite direction, never sharing my accomplishments, even with our family. Some of it I get now, as an adult – some of it, I realize, was to teach me not to be boastful. Some of it was because excellence was expected of me so the attitude was why make a big to-do out of what should be normal? And some of it was because even in our own family, there were those who would try to tear you down. Because they weren’t doing better, they would scorn your attempts to be successful. And the best way to prevent that was just not to let them know what the hell you were doing in the first place.
I get all of that now. But still, I sometimes feel that, even if she hadn’t boasted about me to other people, my mom could have told me that she was proud of me, given my own self-confidence a boost.
So I try to do that with Punksin. To let her know that I am proud of her, that I love her, that I’m happy when she’s doing well in school and being her bright irrepressible self. She is truly a gem and I always want her to know that and I want her to believe it too.
Happy birthday to the best little girl in the world.