I admit that I procrastinated on this year's dual birthday party. The kids have so far shared the spotlight on their birthdays, having their party together, usually during the six days that separate the two dates. Because we took our family vacation in the first week of August, and because school started so early this year, I found it hard to commit to a date until we were less than two weeks away from Archer's birthday on the 19th. Finally I agreed that this weekend was the best time, as long as the party was a slacker special with a minimum of organized activities and a maximum of kids dragging toys out of the closet and amusing themselves.
It's a challenge to make each child feel special on his or her own day when the celebration doesn't fall on either. After we agreed that Archer could open a couple of presents after school, I asked Noel whether he could have some kind of special breakfast tomorrow to start his day off. He looked at me blankly; neither of us had any idea what would constitute that kind of treat. In a way we've conditioned our children to low expectations. When we do give them something special, they know it's an unusual occurrence, and often get inordinately excited about something that other children probably expect as a matter of course.
I'm glad I don't have to do a lot of prep for the party on Saturday. Send Noel off to pick up balloons and a cake, throw a couple of colorful tablecloths over flat surfaces, toss sidewalk chalk onto the driveway, haul a few building sets into the living room, fire up the Wii. On the other hand, you get a finite number -- and a distressingly small one, at that -- of chances to throw birthday parties for your kids. I feel bad about missing an opportunity to make a memory that will really last. Is there still time to arrange for a lifesize Pikachu to make an appearance?