Three weeks out … and I’ve organised nothing

Sixth birthday - dinosaur-themed from memory. Photo: Su Leslie 2004

Sixth birthday – dinosaur-themed from memory. Photo: Su Leslie 2004

It’s partly because my son is an only child (and partly because I love celebrations) that I’ve tended to go all out on birthday parties for him.

We’ve had huge parties (around 30 people came to his fourth birthday), themed parties (dinosaurs, medieval knights, pirates, underwater world), multiple parties for the same birthday, costumes, elaborate cakes, games involving balloon swords or polystyrene pterodactyls (which have to be made by doting and dotty parents) … and, well you get the idea.

Thomas the Tank Engine cake for birthday number three. Photo: Su Leslie 2001

Thomas the Tank Engine cake for birthday number three. Photo: Su Leslie 2001

When he was little, birthday planning began in early January (for a late February birthday). I’d have lists, strategy sessions, even spreadsheets. It was exhausting and I generally had at least one totally ridiculous meltdown or screaming tantrum, but the parties always went wonderfully and of course I secretly (or not so secretly) loved the whole messy, expensive, over the top process.

The medieval knights themed party; swords made from modelling balloons, bicycle jousts and a castle cake. Photo: Su Leslie 2005

The medieval knights themed party; swords made from modelling balloons, bicycle jousts and a castle cake. Photo: Su Leslie 2005

Looking back on the birthday photos, the really nice thing is that the kids generally look relaxed and happy – often pulling faces and mugging for the camera.

My sixth birthday; I'm hiding in the middle behind my brother.

My sixth birthday; I’m hiding in the middle behind my brother.

That’s in stark contrast to the only photo I have of one of my birthday parties. Admittedly, it was the late sixties and we were probably all “on our best behaviour”, but really there’s no joy in the shot – no sense that it’s a party or that anyone is having fun.

And the boy-child doesn’t want big celebrations any more; no themes, cakes … not even a party. He has several groups of friends and has realised that they don’t necessarily mix well, so for the last few years he has tended to celebrate with each group separately. And it’s all pretty low-key these days. Like his father, the boy-child actually doesn’t enjoy a fuss. Can he really be my son????

Sixteen feels like a milestone worth celebrating and I’ve raised it with the boy but he’s adamant he wants to mark the occasion his way – without my involvement. He’s resistant to any sort of family occasion beyond dinner with the Big T and I.

I do feel conflicted; it’s my son’s birthday but that event also marks the day I feel we became a family – rather than a couple. By doing so it also tied us more closely to our wider whanau and I’d like to give those people a chance to celebrate something so special too.

Well, I still have three weeks — plenty of time for a miracle!

This post was written as part of my countdown to my son’s sixteenth birthday.

Here’s what’s gone before:

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/on-the-importance-of-grandparents/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/on-counting-and-gender-stereotypes/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/getting-over-the-grumps/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/weekly-photo-challenge-object/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/six-word-saturday-on-being-allowed-a-weekend-sleep-in/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/on-raising-children-and-not-getting-enough-sleep/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/back-to-school-for-the-last-time/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/wordless-wednesday-remembering-birthdays-past-and-counting-down-to-a-big-one/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/juxtaposition-on-being-reminded-how-far-we-have-travelled/

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26 thoughts on “Three weeks out … and I’ve organised nothing

  1. Well, if he doesn’t want a party with the wider ‘family’ then perhaps you could have everyone participate in a different way. Perhaps each of them can write a remembrance of boy-child and you could make a short book or something. Then video him opening and experiencing it and share that? It’s tough to respect the no party desire…

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    • Thanks Meghan; that’s a really great suggestion. In fact as I’m writing this I’m wondering if I can ask people to do a short video message (on their phones, probably) and I can edit those together for him. Thank you, thank you!!!! I do feel he’s being a little bit selfish excluding people who love him very much.

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      • You’re welcome. A video is much more his generation (I am reader… 😉 ). It’s his job at this age to try to separate from his family to learn to be his own person. Selfish? Probably… ah well.

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    • I’m a reader too, but you’re right he is totally digital! When he was a baby we held a naming ceremony and asked all our guests to make a wish for him on a card and tie it to a “wishing tree.” We planted the tree at his grandparents’ house (we were living overseas at the time) and kept all the wish cards. I think you’ve spurred me into doing a digital version of that. I’d almost like to buy another tree (the last one was bulldozed 😦 when the grandparents sold their land to developers), but as we’re probably going to move soon, a tree is probably not ideal!
      And you are right about separation. I guess I’m just feeling he’s doing too good a job of it 🙂

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    • Thanks Angeline. It is a fabulous idea and I’m just about to make myself a cup of tea and start figuring out how to make it work. I may need my spreadsheets yet!!!! 🙂

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    • Thanks for that; I’m feeling better having feedback from my blogging community. Amazing how similar our lives are. We had our son before most of our friends had kids, so I feel like the Big T and I are the trail-blazers. Good in some ways, but hopeless when I need a bit of advice or moral support 🙂

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