Sunday, November 25, 2012

Birthday Parties

I was always amazed at the views of wealth seeping forth in parts of Los Angeles/Orange County.  When I had spare time I used to meander thoughtfully though neighborhoods on my way to the beach pondering, "Where do all these people get all this money?"  It was always a mystery to me.  Because I work as an interpreter, I sometimes fly-on-the-wall observe the lives of others.  You learn a lot this way.  And always things you never tell anyone else about. Therefore, somehow in that life, I met people who planned kids birthday parties for a living.  They made more money than me.  They lived well.  Planning events for little kids (really their parents) that cost more than my annual income.  Amazing, depressing use of money.

Later, when I had kids of my own and lived in a completely different place, I tried planning birthday parties.  Every time I looked online for ideas, there was a plethora of Birthday Party Industries to provide for my every desire for my child.  I often felt inadequate as a mother as I planned old-fashioned simple parties without the help of the Industry.

Today my oldest daughter is at a birthday party.  This party started yesterday with a sleepover.  We ventured to a local store to find a gift for the birthday girl.  Then I drove less than 5 minutes "out in the county" to her home.  I feel safe taking her there because I know this family: my daughter and the birthday girl have been in the same class for two years in a row, the extended family runs one of the main service businesses in town, I know people who know these people and their relatives, and yes, as we all do in small towns, I already asked around to make sure there's no strange predators in the family. 

They have acreage, some horses, goats, plenty of dogs and other creatures roaming around.  Their home is a birthday party!  We pulled up and out in the field is a bounce house!  This is now A Big Time event!  (No professional planner needed.)  The local pet store (which only carries reptiles and rodents - weird I know) is bringing a variety of their snakes and lizards for the kids.  Let me tell you, "country" girls like to shoot guns, run around on farms, aren't afraid of seeing Dad clean a bird he shot, and pet cows like others pet dogs.  Snakes and lizards?  Not something you'd see at a party-planner-organized-thousand-dollar 9th birthday party for a girl in LA!  These girls will LOVE it - amidst squeals and laughter.

Comparing this to the basement party with some lame crafts I planned last year I still feel inadequate.  But I feel joy because I know my daughter's having a great day with kids who will be life-long friends.  So many reasons to be thankful for small-town living.

PS - Thanks to this website in the Birthday Industry for letting me use their image.  :)

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