A couple of press articles have caught my eye over the last week or so.
First, there was all the furore over the parents who invoiced a 5 year old boy who did not turn up for their child's ski slope party. Then there was yet more shenanigans when Myleene Klass (a celebrity previously unknown to me) tweeted how unhappy she was that 2 parents had asked for a donation towards their children's presents this year, so they could have a class present rather than lots of individual presents.
|Image from Pear Tree Greetings|
Well I have to say on both counts I was somewhat flabbergasted. The invoice drama was as total non-story that should never have had any media coverage (says she who is dragging it up again). I feel that both sides were trying to get their 15 minutes of fame for something that should have been sorted out at the school gate, long before invoices were dispatched.
However the class gift story fell into a whole different category. I may be a bit out of touch with middle class England, and certainly schools where the fees are £5,000 per term and to be honest I had no idea who the celebrity was, but I did feel her response was not out of place. Whether she should have let her views known quite so publicly, on Twitter, is another matter, but I would have felt exactly the same had I been asked for a donation towards a class present. In their defence, the asking parents said that they did not feel it was unreasonable as they felt this would be a better way for the parents to give their children something that was wanted rather than 20 presents that the children may not want and would serve only to clog up their houses (or words to that effect).
That got me thinking that actually the problem goes back a bit further than either of these incidents. It goes back to a day, unwritten in history, when a Mum somewhere decided that it would be an excellent idea to invite the WHOLE class to her child's birthday party and in doing so set a dangerous precedent where everyone suddenly had a minimum benchmark to attain. Parents not wanting to appear mean had to do the same. Suddenly, in an average class of 30 pupils, there were 29 parties to attend through the year and 29 presents to buy for 29 children, many of whom you do not even know ... hence the buying of unwanted presents that clog up homes across the land. Great for toy manufacturers. Expensive for parents.
And it got worse. Other parents will always want to out-party everyone else and so class parties just got bigger and bigger. Suddenly you were talking bouncy castles, hire of the local hall, entertainers, ski lope parties and all sorts of other big and expensive adventures. Kid's birthday parties managed to jump from a few friends round for cake and a round of pass the parcel to something parents may need to take out a second mortgage to afford. That unnamed Mum who invited the whole class has, in my opinion, got a lot to answer for.
So what do our boys do for their birthdays?
Tom's birthday was last week and he asked that, rather than having anything particular now, could he take one friend to our local theme park in the summer? Happy with that.
Ben is a bit more of a party animal but we always limit his parties to about 10 friends. No entertainer, trips or pricey extras, just a few children, lots of running around, a table full of food to fuel hungry, energetic kids and maybe a treasure hunt if I get around to making the clues. Ben's happy with that too.
That's how we do it. What do you think about the children's parties? Are big parties just the norm now and am I being mean not letting the boys have large and expensive parties? Please do let me know in a comment.