A week from today will be Ann's fourth birthday. (Same as yours, Ezzie). On the day of her birthday, I'll be going to her day camp with the standard school/camp party implements as dictated by the school.
The school asks for either a bought cake or bought cupcakes, and a half-gallon of juice. They provide plates and cups. Elsewhere on the memo, clearly stated, are the words "We do not permit the distribution of any party bags or favors. Each birthday child may present the class with a gift of a small book or tape if you wish."
Ann and I went to choose a CD of children's music ($5.99) and wrapped it for the occasion. I've got juice in the house, and we'll get the cupcakes next week. The usual cupcake choice has been mini-cupcakes that come 18 to a package, with alternating rows of rainbow sprinkles and chocolate sprinkles on top. They are small and don't cost much.
I was quite surprised when Ann came home from camp today with a substantial "goody bag." It was the first birthday party this summer, and I'm really ticked off that by flouting school policy, this child's mom has upped the ante. A party hat, a few little chachke toys, a sheet of stickers, some crayons, and, my personal least favorite, a giant lollipop, all came home with Ann today. Grrr.
Ann is not a demanding child (though I can already see that Andy's got a whole different temperament). And until now, we've celebrated her birthday by making a small barbeque in my parents' backyard for us, my parents, and my brother who lives locally with his family. (11 people, mostly cousins, in total at this point) I either bake the cake or buy one.
When we go to Toys R Us for diapers, or Amazing Savings for foil tins, and don't buy anything else in the face of toys and chachkes galore, I almost never hear any protests or requests from Ann. But of course, after camp today, Ann told me that she was excited to give out "surprises" to her friends next week too.
I know how kids are at four years old, and if I stick stuanchly to my original plan, Ann will certainly hear from some of the other kids about why she didn't give anything out for her birthday when "Child A" did last week. She's not a fighter, but it will hurt her. And why should she always be the one to be the understanding "big girl" that I'm often asking her to be? I don't think it is fair or realistic to expect a child Ann's age to have the grace and fortitude to calmly reply, "Well, I did give a CD to the class, and besides, we aren't supposed to give out goody bags."
I can think of a couple of other bloggers who are likely to disagree with me, or at least strongly share in my frustration, but I think that at this point, my hands are tied and I need to come up with some modicum of party favor. Perhaps something actually useful or appreciated, like an inexpensive little book or coloring book (I'm open to ideas). It won't be because I wanted to.
I had no issue with the goody bags when Ann was invited to a birthday party held outside of school. I felt that it was unneccesary in that child's case for the parents to go all out at a dance studio, but it was not subject to school policy, and fortunately, it was the only party as far as I know.
Tonight, (before I lost my nerve!), I called the head counselor in Ann's group, who was also her ganenet/teacher the previous year, and expressed my surprise and disappointment that this had occurred altogether, and a week before Ann's own party to boot. She agreed with me, although I understand that from her perspective, having this other mom simply show up with a birthday boy with 20 prepared yet unnanounced bags really barred her from creating an ugly scene and prohibiting her from distributing them. She understood where I was coming from, sympathized, and understands why I'll be showing up with something for Ann to give out (albeit small). Thanks, teach.
Sigh. The whole thing irks me, though.