Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Children's Birthdays Last Longer and Longer

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published January 26, 2005

Remember when kids’ birthdays only lasted one day?

When I was a kid, I woke up on my birthday, friends came over, I blew out candles, opened my presents and went to bed. The next day, life was back to normal.

I’m not sure how we got to this point, but my daughter just had her sixth birthday, and it was more like Hanukkah — a 12-day festival with relatives, food and parties.

Well, it wasn’t quite 12 days, but the celebrating seemed to go on and on. First there was her actual birthday. She got stuff. She got cake. The next day, more stuff came in the mail. The day after that, more stuff. The day after that was her party, which meant a trip to Moody Gardens and more stuff.

I guess turning 6 is more work than it used to be.

But we have to admit that we got off easy this year. Julia, our party queen, opted to invite one friend to Moody Gardens instead of throwing a big bash at our church as we’ve done in years past.

It was a nice break. We didn’t have to send out a jillion invitations. We didn’t have to worry about some kid sustaining brain damage from a blow to the cranium with the pinata stick. I didn’t have to fill a bunch of goodie bags with candy designed to keep children up all night, which in turn would result in their parents’ refusal to speak to me for several weeks afterward.

We did have a quiet party at home when Julia turned 2, but that was the year I made a red Elmo cake and the next morning I nearly passed out from horror at the sight of her jammies and sheets soaked with a red substance that I thought was blood. Turns out Elmo’s red coconut fur didn’t agree with Julia’s little tummy. I haven’t made any birthday cakes since, and everyone seems grateful.

In a way, though, I like the big parties. Planning them serves as a distraction from the reality that my child is doing the unthinkable and actually growing up.

We moms really stress over this. Oh sure, we smile as our children blow out their candles, but inside we’re thinking, “In 10 years, she’ll be DRIVING!” Then we go home and study our C-section scars in the mirror, not because we worry that they are unsightly but because we marvel at how our kids were once small enough to fit through them. We want our kids to grow and succeed, but part of us will always want our babies back.

Next year, we’ll be back to big bashes because Julia wants a bowling alley party. I sort of enjoy bowling now, especially since having a child gives me the excuse to put up those thingies in the gutters so I’ll never bowl a gutter ball. So it should be fun.

But before that, we’re adding another birthday tradition to the family schedule. Jenna will celebrate her first birthday on Aug. 26. And 27th, 28th, 29th...

Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her e-mail address is


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