Birthday parties are a part of childhood. When I was little they were usually in the form of a birthday tea. I’d have a few friends over to the house and we’d have sandwiches and cake. Then there would be a few rounds of pass the parcel. A run around in the garden rounded things off – it was usually possible as I had a June birthday.
At my son’s school there seems a strange divide over parties. Whole class parties have been quite common and everyone in the class has been invited. Some parties have been for smaller groups: often all the girls or all the boys.
We go to most of the birthday parties that J is invited to. We go if we aren’t busy doing something else. When we get there we see the same faces all the time. There are about 15 families out of 30 who seem to take their children to parties. The others never do. When I say never, I mean never. Some of these children have never attended any of their classmates birthday parties (and they have been invited) in two years of school.
Now I know that not everyone can make every party; we all lead busy lives. I know that some are difficult to access without a car, but some are easy to get to by public transport or on foot. I know that people might have a regular weekend commitment that means that they can’t make certain time slots at the weekend, but the parties have been held at various times between 10 and 6 on both Saturdays and Sunday. It can’t be for religious reasons because everyone is the same religion: it’s an oversubscribed church school.
I guess some might be worried about the expense of buying gifts or feel awkward about not having a party for their own child. Maybe some are worried about having to return the favour, but I don’t think anyone really thinks that way. Birthday parties can be held fairly cheaply if you know how. I know some parents didn’t realise you could always pay the extra yourself to take another child along to a soft play party for instance. Just give the soft play place a quick call beforehand to check it will be ok – it usually is.
It seems part of growing up and developing social skills to go to your school friends’ parties. It seems a shame that these children are missing out. Does this happen at your child’s school? Do you take your child to birthday parties?