With six kids still at home, birthday party invitations average about one a week at my house. Today I am heading out in a snow storm to, you guessed it, a birthday bash for a classmate of Silas.
When I was a younger mom, I admit I would let the event slide right by, never making a serious attempt to get my kids to them. Sometimes I would call with regrets without even checking the calendar. Too much trouble, too much time, too much expense. I could always find a reason.
But somewhere along the way, I began to tune in to the importance of these play dates. I know birthday parties are great occasions for my kids to connect with classmates in a setting other than school. And while I am not naive as to what can go on at middle school parties, I do make an effort to find out if the setting is acceptable. (I am one of those annoying moms who calls and asks suspicious questions: Will parents be home? Will the kids be supervised? What movies will you watch?) It has been worth the trouble, as one of my kids was on the shy side in middle school, and it was at a birthday party that he entered into a fun friendship.
I have even turned shopping for gifts into a hobby--scaling clearance aisles, stashing paper, tape and those handy birthday bags. For a while I was having trouble keeping up with my finds, until I struck up a conversation with a lady in line (remember, I am a chatty southerner). When I shared with her how I loved to shop ahead for birthday parties but sometimes had trouble finding my bargains at home, she suggested I keep everything in a "gift closet". Thank you, chatty shopping lady, for that good advice.
For the second Saturday in a row (with another one next week), I am off to a birthday party. Who knows, maybe I will make a new friend, too.