Thursday, June 18, 2009

the birthday ritual and one upping

This year was a first for both Dash-1 and me. School.

It's not like we tackled full time school or anything too drastic, just nursery school twice a week for about 2 1/2 hours.

And now, on Tuesday our his first year of school comes to an end. But not first without a bit of a rant observation on my part. An observation of the birthday ritual.

It started out simple enough, bring in cupcakes on your kids birthday to celebrate. Simple right? Some parents brought in cookies, one parent brought in donuts, but for the most part, cupcakes. But then there are the parents that do more and interestingly enough it wasn't until the last quarter of the year that this started happening.

Parents started going overboard.

If it weren't for dash-1 having to take in his own cupcake into school (because of his allergies I get a list of the days he needs a cupcake and then send him in with his own "safe" cupcake), there were days I probably wouldn't even have known it was some one's birthday. But like I said somewhere around March or April that ended.

This week he had to take in a cupcake both days. One day he came out at dismissal bearing a mylar Cars balloon, but the other day took the cake (pardon the pun) he left school with not only a goody bag filled with candy but a speed racer car. And again to clarify, it wasn't HIS birthday, these were gifts given to EVERYONE in the class. All 14 children.

I happened to be standing back in the line next to a mother that I have become friendly with and she seem puzzled by this as well. I just looked at her and said "Crap, for dash-1's birthday I just made cupcakes."

Somewhere along the line the game shifted and her and I missed the memo.

It started with some parents sending home goody bags with the kids, my only complaint about this is that this is school, not a birthday party. As the mom of a kid with allergies it's really hard when goody bags get sent home to really check things out. You expect them and can better anticipate them from a birthday party, it's hard when your not expecting it and they just "appear" in your little one's book bag one day.

Especially the first time it happens and you don't know about the goody bag until he pulls it out of his book bag and starts eating "unchecked" food while your driving down the road. Or when the goody bags get sent home with peanut candy in it (this is a peanut free school AND -1 is deathly allergic)

And to me a birthday party is different, that is someone else's turf, someone else's rules. School should be a neutral safe zone.

So as some parents started sending home goody bags, one or two of us stayed firm and just sent in cupcakes. I took in cupcakes in Feb. for -1 and must admit, goody bags or anything else never even entered my mind. The school said bring in cupcakes, I do as I'm told. That's how I roll.

But it started escalating. One parent sent home massive goody bags, then the next parent send goody bags with a small balloon, then the next sent home pencils with pencil sharpeners, and so one and so forth.

Hey maybe people aren't one upping each other one purpose, really in a way its fascinating just to sit back and watch. But I can't help but notice a trend.

And be thankful that Tuesday is his moving up ceremony, it's a good thing school is over for now, I'm afraid that anymore birthday in the class year and he might come home with a puppy or something.


  1. I cant believe that. Madeline missed her bday in school bc we had moved by that point but i would have just done cupcakes. Ok they probably wouldnt have been just regular cupcakes but something cute bc i'm sure my sister would have wanted to make them but still just cupcakes no goody bags no ballons i cant afford that stuff and i think its wrong for the teacher to let the parents do it bc not everyone can afford it and once one person does it everyone feels like they have to.
    I wonder if it will cont next year

  2. When I worked at Claires I was constantly amazed at the number of moms who bought 15 or 20 of different items for a kids class party. I remember one of them even hand made gift bags out of old juice boxes and spent 30 bucks on the stuff to put in each one. It's just insane. Kids that little are going to be happy with just a cupcake! Insanity.

  3. A puppy! HA.

    I'm sad to read that the arms race starts so early. I thought my book group had the corner on it, but then again, most of those women are retired and maybe a little bored and have time on their hands. That doesn't describe any young mother I know.

  4. Oh I could only imagine... and I had the funniest picture in my head of some mom dropping off 14 puppies at the school with their kid and watching the teachers reaction. ha ha ha... good times!

  5. Wow.. thats crazy, and I agree with you there needs to be some common ground, goddies bags are a little over board?

  6. Thats out of control. 14 goody bags and balloons. Wow. I don't blame you for sticking to the norm. :)

  7. I can believe that parents do those sort of things. I think it is ridiculous, but I know that they do. You doing cupcakes is more than I did for either one of mine. I do stuff for their parties but not for school. The school they are in doesn't allow it anyway. No candy or junk food of any kind is allowed. That isn't to say that some teachers let kids sneak it in past the principal. Birthday parties are expensive enough, IMHO. I don't need to add to it!

  8. Oh I can't wait for the "politics" of being a mom. *huh?* I'm sure some folks are innocent, but I would amost guarantee that there are some one-uppers getting in the mix too. When I read this I think of the sitcom New Adventurs of Old Christine, if you haven't seen it there is a twin-pac of Alpha Moms at the school and it's pretty funy scenarios.

    Aside from the funnies, you have the extra worry of the allergies. Do the teachers have some responsibility to make sure there aren't innapropriate give aways when they know there are food allergies?

  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the purse and the lip gloss! Did you make the purse?

    Thanks again, expect something in the mail! :)

  10. It's a new game out there now isn't it? I remember the days of cake and that was it. Doesn't the school have a policy against that kind of thing and how often it can be done?

    Sounds like being a mom is getting political as being a military wife...

  11. Stand firm! The arms race only gets worse as the kids get older, btw.

  12. Oh boy, my poor child. For her birthday this past year, it fell on a weekend so I didn't do one thing for her birthday at school (we also do the 2 morning a week nursery school thing). That's me, the deadbeat nursery school mom.

    Thankfully our school was very low key, so nothing over the top was ever sent home, although some parents did do gift bags for each child at Christmas. Since we moved, I'm not looking forward to starting this whole process over at a new school this coming fall... Ugh.

  13. That's going a bit far. When I was in school everyone sang Happy Birthday and we got a kiss from our teacher. Crap nowadays just singing means your stingy bad parent, but at least you can sue the teacher for sexual harrassment, so next year you better step up to the plate and bring in the pony rides for your kids birthday.

    My birthday always fell during winter vacation time, so I never got to celebrate my brithday at school. And teachers never backtracked. Oh well, at least my mom didn't have to worry about cupcakes or bringing in the three ring circus.

  14. F-16 rides for all! Hahaha! Wow....I just cannot believe that!


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