Making birthday party treat bags. How I loathed filling bags of junk to give to kids as some sort of birthday trade-off. That is something that became a phenomenon for my generation of parents. The ubiquitous treat bag that our kids brought home after attending parties that rivaled some weddings. (Speaking of another thing I don't miss? The escalation of a child's annual birthday to some sort of major rite of passage - complete with DJs, photobooths, smoke machines, and limo rides). It doesn't leave much to look forward to as an adult, in my opinion.
I do miss planning the party but we always had them at home. They were "do-it-yourself" events, that my children had as much input into as I did. They picked a theme of based on one of their interests and we brainstormed theme-appropriate activities. One year, we had a backyard camp out. We borrowed a huge tent from an Eagle Scout friend I knew, made s'mores, went on a scavenger hunt, decorated flashlights, and painted magnets that looked like campfires. Another year we had a "diva party", where all the guests were invited to prepare a karaoke song and we had neon hair extensions and singing all night long.
I've always had the opinion that a birthday is the only day all year that is a "selfish" day. The stress of trying to make it a special day about every single guest as well grated on me. But that's just one of the things I won't miss, and I think it's healthy to remind myself that parenthood isn't always one big happy-fluffy-rainbow-sparkled journey. After the #1 thing I won't miss, I will round out my list.
2. I will not miss everyone getting a trophy, and I wish I knew what to do with all the trophies that everyone did get throughout the years. (actually upon pondering this, I did a search and found a GREAT idea, a trophy recycling company, that will re-purpose all your old trophies. (and even donate them to 501c3s). They can be like fruitcakes, and eventually, there will only be 100 trophies in the world that just keep getting regifted!
3. I will not miss clothing that becomes dorky and therefore completely unwearable before it's even been washed the first time. It winds up languishing in a closet until the pronouncement that my child had nothing to wear and would seemingly prefer to go naked rather than wear that hideous apparel that they chose only a month ago.
4. I will not miss finding out about a school project the night before and being asked to run to the all night printing store to do the last minute touches or a 24 hour superstore to pick up one last supply. I despised projects. What ever happened to just writing a report or taking a quiz? Why does replicating an entire village inside the lid of a pizza box check if you read the book? The only people who like projects are the people who own posterboard companies.
5. I will not miss the need to buy a t-shirt at every event and performance, as some sort of souvenir, because that trophy (see #2) wasn't enough.
I am going to keep this list handy for those days I feel really lost. I think it's healthy to reflect on both the good and the bad. To be clear, I loved hosting the parties, I just hated the treat bags. I loved the activities that my kids got to do, I hated the unending parade of trophies. I loved shopping for their clothing, but hated when fickle fashion taste ruled over practicality. I loved seeing them excel in school, but I hated projects that were more a test of how much you could spend at the craft store. And I love their diverse interests, but I hate the pile of tacky t-shirts.
Tonight, we forward to celebrating the dawning of adulthood with our elder child. I also look forward to the simple, tasteful gift we're giving to our young adult and an elegant dinner, without any food that smiles at us or has neon-colored frosting. It's a good trade-off.