Thursday, April 24th, 2014
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
Since my older son’s fifth birthday party was held last weekend, I find it appropriate to discuss exactly what goes into planning, and ultimately executing a child’s birthday party. Now, I know plenty of parents who will scoff at this and ask, “Why bother stressing over a kid’s birthday?” Well, the short answer is because stress is in my blood. The remainder of this blog is the long answer.
Planning a birthday celebration for an adult is fairly simple. You pick a date, you pick a place, you send a mass text, and whoever is around shows up for a drink. And generally speaking, there’s very little stress (if any at all) and plenty of alcohol involved.
So, about that kid’s party…
The very first thing to consider is theme. As in, which animated character makes your child cry the hardest when pried out of his or her hands? For my son, this was undoubtedly superheroes. Batman, Incredible Hulk, Spiderman, Iron Man. You name it. He’s obsessed with it. Sure, he’s never actually seen any of them on television (or even the comics). But why should that insignificant detail deter him from infatuation? Regardless of what you choose, though, the inevitable theme ends up being “parents spend an obscene amount of money that their child will never fully appreciate.”
So for my son’s party, my overly driven wife decided to make HOMEMADE SUPERHERO CAPES AND MASKS as party favors. In a way, I was impressed by her determination. In another way, it felt like going swimming with cinderblocks tied to each ankle. Ambitious, yet not entirely desirable if you’re already having trouble keeping your head above water.
I wish I’d put half the effort into college that my wife puts into party favors.
The next thing to consider, naturally, is the date the party will take place. Choosing the date closest to the actual birthday of your child is ideal, but not always feasible. What if your child’s birthday coincides with Labor Day weekend, or the birthday of another child in your kid’s class, or the anniversary of Titanic’s sinking? Ultimately, you’re either the type of person who says “screw it” and books your party the date you want it, or the type to play nice and make sure you’re not stepping on feet. No matter how hard I resist, I typically fall into the latter category. I just refuse to touch anyone’s feet.
Choosing the location and party package (assuming this isn’t happening in your backyard) quickly turns into a game of “Which business owner is trying to screw me the hardest?” There will be the basic party package, which they’ll actually title “Basic Party Package” to make you feel like a heartless cretin selecting it. This package typically includes six party guests, 30 minutes of jump-rope, and maybe use of paper goods and plasticware. The basic package is the party equivalent of ordering the 8 GB iPhone. So, ultimately, because you’re having more than six kids at the party, you’re ordering the Jumbo Kid Orgasm Package that costs roughly the same amount as your mortgage payment. But that includes cleanup, saving you the trouble of taking paper plates and napkins and tossing them into a trash bin. So, there’s that.
Then, reluctantly, comes the creation of the invite list. And make no mistake; no adult wants their kid to be on that list. There’s no alcohol, there’s little refuge from their kids, and there’s a strong likelihood that they’ll have that party hat elastic band snapped onto their face. This may explain why we invited 32 kids to my son’s party and a whopping seven replied by the RSVP date. You would think we were asking them to sign up to be a foster family for a homeless groundhog with the hollowness that encompassed our phones and email inboxes. Add on the fact that we mistakenly invited his entire class, and we were met with a whole sh*tload of indifference. For potential ideas on how to quell this RSVP issue, check out this recent article.
Once the date, location, invite list, theme, and alcohol to be consumed afterwards is all laid out, it’s time to “execute the party.” So you cart the balloons, cake, party favors, and every stimulant imaginable to the party place. And you start to realize that holding a child’s birthday party is not unlike having a wedding. First of all, there is virtually no socialization (for you) at all. You’ll greet people as they walk in the door, mindlessly shout “thanks!” as they’re leaving, and practically nothing in between. You’re too busy taking and posing for pictures. You’re too busy documenting who gave which gift so you can mention it in the “thank you” card later. You’re too busy ensuring every soul in the building is happy, eating and hydrated…except for you. And that’s when you decide that your child’s next birthday will be at the Outback.
My task the night before the party was turning Poland Spring into “Super Water”
But there’s something intrinsically important that happens during your child’s party. There’s a moment when the music is colliding with your relentless thoughts, when your spouse is anxiously asking you where you left the camera and you feel the sweat start to bleed through your shirt fabric, when you see your child absorbing every stimulating element surrounding him. And he’s so incredibly happy that you can’t help but smile through the chaos. Because you know, despite the price tag, your sweat is worth his joy.
Another thing that was actually worth it? This cooler than cool superhero cake.
Yes, the fist is edible. Yes, I ate the fingernails.
Alternatively, if in that moment you don’t see your child exuberantly smiling, at the very least you’ve brushed up on your project management skills.
Thanks for reading, and please join the conversation by adding a comment below, checking out my Facebook, or following me on Twitter. And if anyone in the New Jersey area wants the number of the cake creator, drop me a line.
Get started planning the perfect birthday party for your little one using our Birthday Party Planner!
* Balloon photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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Thursday, March 6th, 2014
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
It truly is remarkable how many atrocious acts children are able to get away with, under the guise of “they’re only kids.” And frankly, I don’t think it’s fair that age should determine social etiquette. I mean, do these cretins think they’re above the law? Anyway, here is a series of infractions where I think kids (and even babies) need to mind their manners and shape up!
Blatantly throwing food on the floor
Seriously? There’s a ball right there in your hand. Throw that instead! And it’s not like macaroni and cheese even makes a satisfying noise when it hits a tile floor. I see no logic behind this senseless, selfish act. Adults could never do this as there’d be no one to clean it up.
Touching someone else for no reason
This is something that kids do without consequence until they’re about 17. Babies, toddlers, and adolescents alike have been touching people’s butts and faces for centuries without a care in the world. Adults would definitely not be able to get away with this sober.
Saying dinner is “gross”
My son often tells my wife that the dinner she prepared is “gross” or “yucky.” However, when I say the same exact thing? Suddenly it’s this major issue. Adults clearly cannot get away with blatantly insulting a chef/spouse to his or her face.
Throwing a tantrum in the mall
It seems like kids save their absolute worst, most uncontainable fits for when you’re trekking through a department store with 12 bags, a stroller, four jackets, and zero patience. But imagine an adult acting in such a manner. You bring a sale item to the register, only to discover that item is now full price. So you start convulsing on the floor and knocking down clothes racks. You would probably be banned from the mall. But if your kid did the same thing, everyone would have a hearty chuckle and go on with their day. Fair?
You’re a child, not George “The Animal” Steele. I mean, really.
Staring at boobs
If there ever were an activity that yielded either giggles or unrivaled anger, depending on the age of the perpetrator, it’s this. The rule seems to go: If you’re three, more breasts for thee. If you’re 38, here comes the hate.
Opening someone else’s gifts
We’ve all seen this. Little Emma is perfectly capable of tearing wrapping paper on her own, but Dylan is blind to that fact, callously pushing her out of the way to open a present that’s not even his! Try doing this beyond the age of 10 and suddenly, no one wants you involved in their Secret Santa.
Refusing to get dressed
Has your kid ever insisted on staying in their pajamas when you need to be out the door to get him to school so you can be on time for an important meeting? If you said “no,” then your kid is probably in utero. Every child over the age of 18 months suddenly gets very specific about when and by whom they’d like to be dressed. Such Prima donnas. Then they demand exactly 2 ½ strawberries and ¾ glass of milk with their cereal. It’s like dealing with a self-important Hollywood starlet in diapers.
Climbing on countertops/tables
Kids are like mini, drunk adults when they’re misbehaving. No clearer example of this is their constant decision to do their impression of any and every four-legged animal on the dining room table. I tried being “cute” once and joined in. My head smashed into the hanging light fixture, my knees ached, and the looks on the faces of the other people at Outback Steakhouse were definitely not encouraging.
Crying when barely injured
My 4-year-old stubbed his toe on his dresser the other day and wailed like he’d been set on fire. Incidentally, that very same dresser nearly brought me to tears a few years earlier (when I had to pay for it). But sometimes I think he’s exaggerating. There are times when he cries because his socks are too tight. He’ll make a terrific professional wrestler. Or a LeBron James.
You hear the term “double standard” thrown around quite often. But rarely is anything ever done to change it. All I’m asking is that we hold these children accountable for their butt-touching, food-throwing, gift-ruining ways. Then, and only then, will there be justice, and clean floors.
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Image: Slingshot photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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Friday, February 15th, 2013
This Valentine’s Day Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2½-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, says goodbye to roses, chocolate and romance and shares how the holiday has taken on a new meaning since having a child.
Do couples with small children still celebrate Valentine’s Day? I mean with roses, chocolate, and romance? Because we sure don’t. I can’t tell you the last time my husband I spent a truly romantic occasion together. But that doesn’t mean love isn’t the heart of the holiday.
This Valentine’s was all about our daughter’s love for glue. Man does she love glue. If something breaks she pipes up with “we can glue it!” And the more glue the better. Why use a dollop when you could use great gooey globs of it? We go through bottles and bottles of glue at our house. It’s the stuff that holds our family together.
Yet somehow this fact escaped me when I planned some Valentine’s Day crafts for me and my daughter to make together. Four. I planned four glueless crafts and she wanted no part of any of them. Somewhat reluctantly, I scrapped the plan and broke out the glue. Did she ever go to town.
This Valentine’s Day won’t go down in the annals of romance and our craft won’t be an instant hit on Pinterest. But that’s okay. It was filled with love. Okay, so it was her love for glue more than anything else but still. I loved every minute of our time together and loved watching her glue with glee. My husband loved the floppy heart craft and basked in her delight when she presented him with it.
I wouldn’t trade any part of it for all the roses and chocolate in the world. I only wish I could bottle the love and let my daughter squirt it all over the world.
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