Sunday, June 17, 2012

It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to

How to keep the tears and tantrums at bay on your child’s birthday
Remember the parties you hosted for your first born child?
Until they reached a certain age, they always involved tears, and for some reason this always surprised me.
I would always ask myself: why is she crying? It’s her birthday... she’s getting all the attention, presents and junk food she wants!
There were tears because someone got the balloon she wanted, because someone else won pass the parcel, because someone else blew out the candles when they weren’t supposed to or just because it was all too much. Attention overload.
Tears and tantrums went hand in hand with fairy bread, balloons and too much sugar.
I’m not the type of parent who serves vegetable crudites and beetroot dip at children’s parties.
I am all for letting kids have a day off from the healthy stuff for a feast of lollies, cupcakes and sausage rolls.
I fully expect them to be on a sugar high all day and I don’t care... it’s their day, and I’ll handle the aftermath.
But for some reason when I was hosting parties for my first born child I never expected the tears that come with birthdays.
Now I’m older and wiser – all that means is that I’ve had another kid and know what comes next.
So for my little one’s second birthday I planned a total non-event.
I’m living in the bush now, so I don’t have the choice of amusement centre, water park, jumping castle hire or Muddies Playground.
It was a simple morning tea for family only.
No lollies, party bags, games or music. Sounds boring doesn’t it?
Well, it was lovely, and there were no tears... well, almost no tears.
Everything was going along beautifully as we had unwrapped presents, threw around a few balloons and ate yummy homemade pastries (thank you Grandma).
Then it was time for the cake so we lit two tiny pink candles, but this completely freaked her out and brought on the tears. 
Although I have given her the nickname of Miss Firecracker (she likes to go off in public places), she is definitely not a pyromaniac.
As soon as Miss Six blew them out, the tears were gone.
Back to playing with her new toys and eating cake. Yay!
It was the most stress-free party I’ve ever hosted, and maybe that’s due to the fact that it involved only one toddler!
So readers, if you’re planning a party for a child under the age of four, be prepared for tears and tantrums from just about every kid there. 
While the kids play like maniacs and the parents mill around hoping someone else will organise the fun for an hour or two, there will always be meltdowns that can turn even the most well planned party into a disaster.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The price of parenting

When did baby teeth become so expensive?
This week my six-year-old daughter asked me one of those questions that are nearly impossible for parents to answer.
The kind that make you “um” and “aah” while searching the empty parts of your brain for some creative genius response that will not only answer the question but leaves the child with no further uncomfortable questions.
She asked: “Why did the Tooth Fairy give Charlie $5 and I only got $1?”
First I have to say “Thanks very much, Charlie’s mum, for inflating the price of baby teeth!”
When I was a child, 20 cents was the standard reward for giving your teeth away.
Then when my daughter lost her first tooth last month I figured that a gold coin is a little more impressive than 20 cents, so $1 was slipped into the little felt pouch that had “Tooth Fairy” embroidered on it, and the tiny tooth went to live in a ring box in the bottom of a drawer.
But it wasn’t the first time my daughter had asked about the tooth fairy. 
Many of her peers had lost teeth already, some more than one, and the going rate for teeth changed day by day from $1 to $5.
Some even got toys as well as cash.
Parents, I implore you... there is no need to reward a lost tooth with a toy. You are only making it harder for the rest of us!
So when the first little wobble occurred within my daughter’s mouth, I prepared myself with a variety of loose change, a little pouch to put the tooth in, and bought a little container of fairy dust featuring a fairy sitting on the lid. 
This fairy dust was to compensate my child every time she asked why she didn’t get as much money as her friends. And so far, it has worked.
It’s sad state when we are trying so hard to keep an imaginary being alive, we will do almost anything (and pay almost anything) to stop our children finding out the truth.
I keep the Tooth Fairy alive in my house because I want to preserve my daughter’s innocence for as long as I can. My parents did this for me, and I treasure those memories of anticipation waiting for a fairy, bunny or jolly fat man in a red suit bearing gifts.
She wasn’t afraid to loose a tooth, and she was grateful for the gifts she received.
I recently read a funny article written by a mother called “I want to meet Everyone, and give them a piece of my mind”.
Everyone, she said, has an influence on her child because almost every day she hears a comment such as this:
“Everyone has an iphone.”
“Everyone has expensive shoes.”
“Everyone is going to the party.”
“Everyone is allowed to dye their hair.”
And so on, and so on.
Peer pressure is a mine field for both children and parents, and the older a child is, the harder it gets.
There is a whole other column I could write about this topic (stay tuned for next week) but instead I ask all parents to consider what messages they are giving their children, and what these message are doing to their wallets.
If the Tooth Fairy gives out $5 cash and toys for one tooth, what’s the next tooth going to cost? Remember there are 20 baby teeth that will fall out and this adds up to $100, plus extra for other gifts. 
To be honest, I’d rather spend that amount on toothpaste than reward my child for one of life’s most repetitive milestones.