It's birthday party time in our household. I've mentioned here how for me a birthday is all about having a special cake. We haven't held a party for Teen Spirit in years -- instead maybe a special trip and of course, his cake. But no party. Of course, La Principessa is knee deep in the birthday party years. Made all the more fun by the fact that she really gets into it now. So what's not to love? Party favors. Goodie bags. Swag sacks -- whatever you want to call them. I had an addiction to them and like anyone else in recovery I'm the most ardent opponent now.
I still feel the need to give out a little something -- but something simple like a coloring book and crayons, or one puzzle or a big homemade cookie. I had started out slow when Teen Spirit was really little but then the whole thing snowballed over the years. I finally had to talk myself down from the impulse to give each partygoer a beribboned puppy to take home.In his toddler days, it was comical seeing two rows of shiny blue lunch sacks carefully tied with wide grosgrain ribbon imprinted with primary-colored trains. Coordinated to match his cake which was in the shape of a train. So cute. Except that he and his buddies were babies -- and babies don't need no stinkin' goodie bags. What were they going to do with a pretend whistle, some pencils, a Matchbox car and little plastic dinosaur? But I had a primal need to behold those color-coordinated little bags. Very much the way I now need to stare at those adorable Halloween appetizer plates on the William Sonoma website. Seriously -- obsessed. Like I need a kitchen ware intervention. That site should be blocked as the XXX Home Decor, Mature Adults Only. Those plates -- with the stylized spider, bat, raven and thin, tasteful orange line rimming the edge. Can't stop staring at them. It's the same with the goodie bags -- had to have them.
So then we got into the full swing of childhood and luckily, getting to go to lots of classmates' parties --- sometimes, three in a weekend. Every single one them ending with Teen Spirit clutching his goodie bag, ready to hyperventilate into it at any second. All of us parents were caught in a cycle of giving and getting scores of little bags. We collected so many plastic nano-toys, itsy bitsy wee vacuum chokers. And for the love of God, the Sweet Tarts. So many mini-packs of Sweet Tarts. Have some mercy, people! Did you know that a kazoo the size of a quarter can be ear-splitting in the hands of an agitated 6 year old?
That's when everything started to change --- I kind of snapped. What about the mini plastic handcuffs (really, Dollar Store?), chocolates shaped like basketballs, slimy soft plastic "creatures", fake snakes, you name it -- I had a synthetic version of it on my floor at some point. So I took a stand -- and I promised myself to commit. I would not give other parents a bag o' teeny plastic bits. Lately, I've tried to give out a puzzle book and maybe a fun pen or pencil. But watch out -- if you tick me off, I may give your little one a couple of kazoos --- or a basket of kittens.