Elliot turned 7 on February 27. We marked the occasion with a family dinner, as per usual, and (drum roll please) his first “peer” birthday party. This is a big deal for me. I’ve been resisting birthday parties for a number of reasons, the biggest of which is Elliot’s personality. He doesn’t do well in large groups of his peers, and he really likes his alone time. But last year he started talking about wanting a party, and he’s come a long way socially, so Greg and I decided to organize one for him this year.
It wasn’t easy for me. I’ve been to a LOT of kids’ birthday parties over the last few years, and while my kids seem to have fun at the standard rec centre party, it just didn’t sit right with me (and yes, I admit it isn’t all about me, but it is about our family and our family values, and I wanted a party that aligned with those values). The big group parties seem too impersonal, and they are all priced for a large (by my standards) number of kids. I knew I wanted to keep things small, both for Elliot’s and my sanity. I spent way too much time thinking about the options, and I eventually decided we’d just do one at home. Elliot was happy with that, and he was happy with keeping it small. I asked him who he wanted to invite (without telling him what “small” was), and he listed three kids from his class, that was it. So that part was easy. I was a bit concerned about what we would actually do at home, and then a friend suggested an alternative — skating. I thought this was a great idea, and I knew two out of the three kids skated. I talked to Elliot and he was in.
Our local rink has skating parties, but for the reasons I mentioned above, I steered clear of those and just organized a time that corresponded to a public skate. The plan was to skate for a bit, and then walk back to the house to make pizza. This solved the “what are we going to do” problem, and kept things more personal.
The party was Saturday, and I’d say it was a success. The social dynamic with the four kids was a bit stressful for me because (without going into too much detail) three of them are alike and the fourth one is so obviously different from the other three…but they all seemed to have fun, and I think the dynamic was no different from what happens in their classroom, judging by the personalities. Elliot definitely had fun, which was obviously one of my goals. But I think my favourite parts (aside from seeing Elliot enjoying himself) were somewhat unrelated to the actual party. One was when C’s mum decided to stay. I just liked the fact that she wanted to — her daughter could have cared less and would have been just as happy with out her, but she felt comfortable staying, so she did. The other was when E’s mum arrived to pick up E, who wasn’t ready yet, so she just left her two older kids with us while she did some errands. Again, I liked the fact that she was comfortable doing that, and I really like her older kids. Both things just added to the personal nature of the party, which was exactly what I was hoping for.