At a five-year-old party yesterday, the mom – a wedding planner – went all out. She had the kids name, Bob – not his real name – spelled out in large vintage metal marquee lights. She had napkins offset from the plates which were topped with a second napkin, also slightly offset and topped with a cupcake, which was topped with a mini sugar Bob's 5th Birthday sign. There were glittery pom-pom strands in the center of the table and playing cards strewn about that were probably intentionally perfectly placed. The mini bottles of water were wrapped in a Bob’s 5th Birthday label. She’d covered the walls in white paper and placed multi-layered multicolored signs with Bob’s 5th Birthday on them. Little hanging flags decorated the walls about the signs, each flag a letter spelling out Bob’s 5th birthday. And, as each child walked in the door, she handed them a shirt to wear that said Bob’s 5th birthday on them.
It was beautiful. It was nuts. The kid was five. Who does that for a five year old?
The parents were impressed. They oooh’d and ahhh’d. After handing out the first shirt to his friend, the one mom had had stenciled with 'the girlfriend’ on it, Bob just wanted to play. The kids just wanted to play. They didn't care about how pretty the table looked or how pulled together the theme of the party was, they just wanted to chase each other and scream and scream some more. In all, it was a great party with fun had by all. And after, while I was helping the relatives clean up what had taken Bob’s mom more than two hours to create, I was ruminating on Bob’s mom’s efforts. Who does that? Two hours of party prep and countless hours of pre-planning for ninety minutes of screaming and cake? Hours and hours for a kid that won’t know how much effort was spent on this party until years and years later and will only thank you when prompted by grandma?
I have a friend who just posted a pic of her Halloween skeleton head cupcakes - at two in the morning – and then got up a few hours later to get the kids off to school before heading off to work. She often stays up and cuts box tops for her kids’ school and then, organizes all the collection of box tops from others so that the school can get extra dollars for things they need. She works in the classroom every week despite her full time job. She teaches a noon art class at the school that requires hours of prep work and little acknowledgment from others. I read her posts and shake my head in wonder at the lengths she goes to for her kids knowing that they will likely not realize what she's done until years later.
When we moved to America, my brother and I were suddenly exposed to a glutton of TV adds for thing we’d never seen before. And we wanted them, we needed them right now. I can’t remember what Brother’s want was but mine was the weird head of a woman/girl, the one you could put make-up on and style her hair. And a Barbie. I wanted a Barbie, not because of her skinny big boobs and pouty faced looks. I wanted Barbie because all my new friends had one and she had lots of clothes and shoes you could take off and a doll that had clothes that could be changed was awesome.
That Christmas, Santa did not bring me a Barbie. Santa brought me a generic doll with brown hair and bangs. I was disappointed until I saw that the doll came with a full wardrobe of clothes, dozens and dozens of pretty new clothes. She even had an evening dress and green velvet cape with actual fur around the edges. She wasn’t a Barbie but one costume change and I got over it. I played with my doll a lot. My doll was bit of a diva. She had a very busy social life and I always had to change her for the various events she was going to.
It wasn’t until years later that I figured out that Mom had made all my doll's clothes, including the velvet cape with fur. I should have guessed. The clothes had the same fabric as the clothes Mom made us. But all I knew at the time, all I cared about was that she wasn’t the doll I’d seen on TV, the doll everyone else had.
I thank Mom for my doll all the time now. I thank her for all the things she’s done for me and for Brother – the things I know about and the things I don’t. That doll and her extensive wardrobe are a perfect example of all the efforts a mom, a parent, puts into growing a child. It wasn’t a party with my name in lights but it was pretty freaking cool.
One day Bob will really thank his mom for his pretty party with marquee lights and offset napkins. Hopefully sooner than I thanked my mom for dolly's green velvet cape with the fur trim. I’m optimistic. Bob seemed pretty smart.
My name is ej. I'm a girl. I say that because with the short hair and the short initials, folks aren't always sure. More brilliant insights to who I am in About me