I have a comondrum (that’s obviously what a conundrum on a Monday is called) and this one is legit. I actually need your help.
There is one major goal of parenting and, as simple and maybe stupid as it may sound, that is to keep my kids alive. I would say that’s the bottom tier of success as a parent, though I will be the first to admit there are days where I feel like that in itself is a GIANT triumph. The tiers of success sort of grow from there, the next to me would be my kids are alive and HEALTHY. The next might be something like they’re alive, healthy and HAPPY.The next might be something like they’re alive, healthy, happy and KIND. And so the levels go, building on attributes I’d like to try my hardest to instill in my kids. This brings me to Matheson’s birthday, as I mentioned last week, he is turning two in June. I’ve been thinking a lot about not only his birthday but the concept of birthday parties and what’s really important.
I love birthdays but I’m not big into gifts. For me, the best present anyone could ever give me for my birthday is their presence and enthusiasm. If you’re going to spend money on account of my birthday, I’d want you to buy yourself a bottle of booze and hop your peppy ass to my birthday party in your party pants. I mean, really, is there anything better than a room full of your favorite people, good food, music and adult beverages? UM. NO. This has been my take on birthdays for as long as I can remember and it’s something I really want to instill in my boys. While gifts are great, money is no indication of how much you mean to someone and, more often than not, the people who love you the most won’t have enough money to show you exactly how much you mean to them in gift form. Last year, after Matty’s birthday I had cards made that thanked everyone for celebrating with us and made it a point not to write specific notes about each individual gift. (Don’t preach to me about etiquette because I don’t care.) I didn’t do that because I’m lazy, I did it because it meant the most to me that they prioritized their time to include coming to help us celebrate.
This brings me to my comondrum. For Matty’s birthday this year I wanted to specifically request that, instead of bringing presents, everyone donate a small amount to a children- or educational-focused charity or cause of our choice. Then going forward, every year around the boys’ birthdays we could sit down and choose the charity together. I see a lot of benefit in this, not only are we placing the importance of birthdays on the people and the time spent together but we’d also be taking a look outside of the the life we’re building for our boys and making an effort to take a minute to be grateful and give back. The other up side is we don’t have to waste 45 minutes of a two hour party opening gifts people felt obliged to bring, awkwardly laughing when multiple people bring the same gift. “Great minds think alike!” Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle.
I mean, I’m obviously ON BOARD with this idea.
Seth, on the other hand, is vehemently against it. I brought it up to him yesterday and he literally laughed in my face and asked what wackadoodle I got the idea from – which, unfortunately for him, was from his very own wackadoodle, yours truly. He said he thought it was ridiculous and that he wanted the boys to get presents. Which was a valid point because I forgot to point out that we would still get them presents and, regardless of what I say to family, they too will probably still get them presents. Seth still wasn’t having it and then, being the smart ass that he is, recommended that maybe we should have people bring us presents instead of Matty because we’re the ones doing all the work. He’s just hilarious, isn’t he? The conversation ended with him saying, “I seriously hate the idea but I don’t think it’s anything worth us fighting over, so we can do it.”
So now, even though I love the idea, I’m trying to figure out if I’m in some way shorting the boys if we do this. Is it wrong? Is it a shitty thing to do? Am I, like, the birthday equivalent of the fucking Grinch? Is there, honestly tell me, something I’m not seeing? The boys are so young, they’re not even old enough to relate presents to birthdays but will they feel shorted when they get older and start to attend other birthday parties obligatory gift in tow? Shouldn’t the gifts we get them and the badass birthday parties be enough?
Tell me I’m right…
Ok, JK, just tell me if my kids are going to think I’m Satan.