Friday, June 15, 2007


I’ve been seeing a spate of birthday parties happening of late. And this set me thinking.

When sonny turned 1 we were traveling, far away from home and no prospect of returning soon. We were staying in a hotel and didn’t know anyone beyond the hotel staff. And yet we wanted to have memories, special memories of the day. Our first born was turning 1. More than anything else – we as bumbling, inexperienced, hyper (me) individuals had not only managed to give birth to a child but we’d gotten him as far as the first year. So we ordered a cake – possibly the smallest one the shop made. But we took half an hour at the cake shop to agree on the cake design. This after taking 2 hours to select a design from their online site. We bought a card that expressed our feelings for him. Bought some paper ribbons and balloons to decorate the hotel room. We stayed up the night before to decorate the room for just the 3 of us.
Hubby woke up at 7am (on a Sunday – that’s a stupendous effort) to get the cake so that we could cut it at 8.32am – which is when sonny was born. And that was it. Sonny played with the ribbons and the balloons and refused to touch the cake – which we shared with the few hotel employees we knew. In the evening we took him to downtown Chicago and we strolled in the parks and took a lot of pictures.
That was it! That’s how we celebrated his first ever birthday.

I promised myself his 2nd birthday would be a lot special.

Sonny turned 2 early this Monday. Once again, we were in a new place. Didn’t know anyone. And didn’t want to throw a party for strangers. More importantly, I didn’t even know of a cake shop (whether one existed at all) in Riyadh. So I bought a marble cake from the store. A marble cake – plain, no icing, nothing written on it – in a plain tin. Sonny had other plans though. He woke up at 3 am. Howling, for who knows what. I yelled at him (haven’t I already told you – how much I hate my sleep being disturbed) before hubby reminded me – that it was his special day. We played till 6 in the morning, which is when he fell asleep. Hubby left for work – reminding me to capture sonny’s reactions to his gift – a brand new tricycle. Sonny has been running after other kids’ trikes here so we knew he would want this gift. Sonny woke at 10am, I presented his trike to him. And he just started walking around with it – no excitement. Hhhmmppff!!!
Hubby returned from work early – we cut his marble cake in a plain tin. For the second year running, sonny refused to touch his cake. No loss, mom and dad love marble cake :) We took him swimming at the pool, came back, fed him dinner and he went off to sleep. That’s it! Birthday no 2 – over! Of course his aunts, his grandparents all called and wished him, his cousins sang for him – but no drama beyond that.

Yesterday, I saw a news item about how some parents celebrated their 5yr old’s birthday. They rented a candy store! I bet the guests had a sweet time :)
Another set of parents spent 50000USD for a kids 1st birthday. Complete with a buffet and orchids and the works.
And then I saw another birthday party being celebrated here – a pool side party. And I wondered. That I love my son – is not questionable. And yet, we’ve just gone through 2 exceptionally simple birthday parties – his first 2 no less. I re-assure myself, we’ve been traveling, we didn’t know anyone. Besides no aunts, no uncles, no grandparents, no friends. We’ve celebrated his birthday with the 2 most important people in his life – who were present. Besides he wouldn’t remember anything, anyways. Forgiveable? Maybe.
When sonny is 8 or 10 or 12 and he hears from his peers about their first birthdays I wonder if our reasoning will hold. Or will he guilt trip us into throwing him lavish birthdays –just coz we didn’t throw him grand birthdays earlier.
My heart churns with unsettling guilt. My mind asks me – to take a chill pill!!



At 1:23 PM, Blogger Alan said...

I think you did just fine with the birthdays, especially being in new places. Renting candy stores and blowing 50 grand is just plain silly, so I wouldn't even make comparisions to them. I don't thnk many people can remember much of anything before age two.

At 5:00 AM, Blogger the mad momma said...

belated wishes to sonny boy... am sure he will not care.. children who are not brought up to make a big fuss are fine later on...

i dont believe in big birthdays for such small kids either.. youshould see the comments i got calling me cheap !!!

At 3:03 AM, Blogger itchingtowrite said...

welcome back.. good to se ethe post- i am sure once sonny understands the concept of b'day u may do the bash thing.. until then it is the parents indulging themselves...

At 3:57 AM, Blogger iz said...

If he's a Gemini, believe me he will! I'm almost 30 and still love my birthday!

At 10:20 PM, Blogger Orchid said... are back when I was on a break!! nice to see you back and vow all that travelling must've left you tired?? how is life in Riyadh?
oh chill....I did just fine withe the birthdays!

At 6:49 AM, Blogger artnavy said...

i think the first few bdays are for the parents to celebrate- the kids do not necc understand or enjoy the attention

and the xamples u mentioned- they are ostentatious and wasteful in my opinion

and when he grows up- he will undertsnd what lovely folks he has and how much of the world he has seen as compared to other kids and be proud about that!

At 3:23 AM, Blogger Just like that said...

Am with Art- the first two B'days are entirely for the parents, and both times, you guys got to eat cake!( ;-)) which is fine in a totally strange environment.
The third B'day is when the kid starts to get a feeling that it is a special day for him.., so you can go easy on the guilt pangs.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home