Sunday, 9 January 2011

A hormonal rant, or Scary Mummy business, Part II

OK, I know I talked about children’s birthday parties before. But you must understand! Birthday parties are huge around here. They play an important role in our social life, and cost an absolute fortune. So, please forgive me this rant.

A good friend invited my child to her daughter’s birthday party. That on its own was quite nice. But then I noticed, to my horror, that the party is a shared one. Between five children!

Here I have to add, that shared parties have been annoying me for an awfully long time. I tried to explain to a family friend what it was that actually winds me up about them, but failed.

 “But it is great! What is your problem? You would have had to go to all those parties anyway? This way you save time!”  You see, it is not quite that straightforward. 

Last time my daughter got invited to a party shared by three kids; it suddenly occurred to me that, even if I get over my azeriness and buy very cheap presents (which I absolutely hate doing by the way), it is still going to cost me more than I can afford. There are 30 children in my child’s class. Besides the school, we also have quite a few other friends we see socially. By the time we go through all their birthdays, I spend an absolute fortune. The reason my friend’s logic was flawed, is that she assumed that if all those children had individual parties, we would still attend them all. That of course, is not the case

Very often, only one child out of 3 or 4 (or...10? not sure where the limit is anymore...) sharing a birthday party is a close friend of my child. Someone we would invite to our party, someone we spend a lot of time socializing with, and someone I would buy a decent present for. When someone like that shares a party with other children (whose parties, let's be honest, we would probably not get asked to attend and/or not bother going to), I face a problem.  Honestly, I simply can’t afford buying gifts for all those other kids. Neither can my child miss a birthday of a close friend. 

Of course, besides me getting bankrupt on the presents, there is this other feeling... The feeling I can’t quite explain. You see, if you go into a lot of effort trying to arrange a decent party for your own child, you simply can’t help but feel a bit cheated when everybody else does not suffer as much! It is so terribly unfair! You can’t help but wonder if you are the only idiot in the village, as we say in Russian, tearing your arse apart. (Yes, Russian is a rich and beautiful language.) It is not like I have a lot more free time, energy or money. How come everyone else is being so bloody smart, but not me? Well, my friends. That ,I guess, is the question I should be asking.


  1. Oh my God, i thought i was the only one with the problem! It's good to know i am not.
    The minute i see so and so would like to invite you to the party, it gets my back up straight away. I think it is wrong on many levels. I hate byuing cheep stuff (and i hate receiving it). We had a party of 4 children, one of which my son's best friend. And this was a very expensive birthday party for me. And i agree, it does not mean i would have attended all 4 parties ( actually, i know which one we would not have as T is allowed to choose himself). So yes, WRONG!
    I would never do it myself as i want my children to feel special on their Birthdays.
    WOnder if this is an ex-soviet issue? :)
    Jurate x

  2. Hi SA!
    A shared party between 5 children must be a cheat for both children themselves and the guests. The amount of attention each one of the five imeninniks gets would be whatever he/she expects to get divided by 5. What a disappointment... On the other hand it hits the pocket of our Scary Azeri very hard. So you ranting is not solely due to hormones, anybody would feel annoyed.
    I'm wondering if the children were born around the same time? I have been to shared birthday parties for two people - these are quite common. But (luckily) never to a shared party of more than two people.

    Scary, I've got a question but it's not on this post. I hope you don't mind. You know, I've been wondering, you don't do the monthly cultural shenanigans any more, do you? I've read some of the old ones and really liked them :)

  3. @Jurate: Yes, maybe it is an ex-Soviet thing? I see the appeal of the shared party, but maybe with one close friend, whose birthday is very close. Still, I would feel like she is sharing her special moment, but I guess that would not be too bad.
    However, i have to admit that often ( not always!) we get a note attached to the invite asking not to spend too much on gifts...sometimes they ask for NO gifts at all (how can I do that??!) or create some clever plot where each guest brings a present for a specific child (that one makes the most sense but hard to accommodate in some cases, I would think)
    So it is complicated! :)

    @Matanat: I still do the cultural column for MagAZine, but we have not been getting a lot of questions from readers. Because of that we went back to just using my blogs, turning them into a "magazinable" version, so to speak. And, sometimes, I write something new/specific for them. Like for Christmas, etc. But yes, a bit sad that people did not send questions. I dont want to make any up! :)

  4. Yes, I know you're still doing the column for MagAZine (I regularly receive a link to the online version). In fact that's how I found you - through the MagAZine :)

    Yea, shame about the Q&As - they were good...

  5. My nephew and his cousin used to have shared birthday parties, because their birthday are three days apart (and one year apart, too). His friends had birthday presents for him and nothing for his cousin, and the same was for the cousin. In fact, most of the times, the people invited learned that it was a shared birthday once at the place.
    Maybe it's time for you to start a new trend?

  6. @Gabriela: That happens, but can only be the case when you dont actually know the other child. :) If those kids are from the same social circle, or the same class, you wont get away with that! :)

  7. I've never heard of shared BD parties before, I guess this innovation hasn't caught on with Americans yet :)

  8. @Nata: Ne syp mne sol na ranu! :)

    Not only you guys are fortunate enough to have baby showers, you also don't have shared parties?! That's it. In my next life, I am moving to the US of A!

    Perhaps your parties don't cost you half of your monthly income, thus no need to share? who knows. everything here is so expensive, traditions develop from necessity, plus the competitive partying some mothers get into...more and more spent, more entertainers, fancier party end!

  9. Yes, it’s not expensive here at all. I can’t ever say that kid’s parties make a dent in our budget. Now Russian parties are a completely different story. That, I’m afraid is inescapable, no matter where you live.

  10. @You say inescapable, but I have never been to one. :)