Kid Characteristically Uninterested In Birthday Party

Parents struggle to identify birthday boy as child hustles off to playground alone

When babies turn one, a birthday party is essentially an excuse to drink and commiserate about lost sleep. Babies have no friends, which leads parents to believe that their child’s birthday parties will always be fun chat times to hang out with cool adults they already know.

When a baby turns two, they can be entertained, and so a parent may feel pressured to provide entertainment. A singalong might be convened, which makes fun chat times difficult, but is amusing enough to distract a parent from the fact that the party is not, this year, about them. It is also possible, and reasonable, not to hire entertainment, in which case you will mostly hear bored babies crying.

At three, a toddler absolutely requires entertainment. The singalong is now required, and the kids are fully mobile. Children will collide, which prompts crying, but they also have a reliable sense of what cake is, which stops the crying. Parents do not talk much at the third birthday, because they are pursuing three year olds to prevent collisions.

A fourth birthday party is a harbinger of things to come. Pizza is now required, and children actively prefer the company of other children over that of their parents, who position them at low tables with half-slices of the aforementioned mandatory pizza. Notably: the child has begun to make friends with other children through school, which means you may not know or even like the other parents at the party. This is a major shift, especially for introverts. At least one child will vomit.

Yesterday, we went to a kid’s fifth birthday party. The fifth is pure chaos. Cliques have formed in both the children’s and parents’ cohorts. Pizza and cake are not just consumed but devoured in vast and expensive quantities. The screaming is constant, but parents largely ignore it. As a parent, you have built up all the skills you need to survive this from the past four years: engaging in idle chatter, a tolerance for weeping, a keen eye for potential injury, and a reduction in the need to please or befriend other parents.

I do not know what six portends. I have, presumably, roughly twenty more fifth birthday parties to attend. You will find me in the corner.

dad