When our oldest turned four years old I hosted a big party with lots of other four-year-olds in attendance who brought present after present. We experienced games and prizes and, oh yeah, lots of PRIDE. Maybe a little of that pride was mine.
You know, the, “look what a great party I threw my little princess” kind of pride. But most of all, the biggest amount of pride was all wrapped up in one tiny tike. She gloated over all the attention, all the “life is all about me” ego that I was fostering. It was a phenomenon, really, somewhere along the likes of Pinocchio’s nose growing as he lied, only this was a head and it was growing with pride right before our eyes with each game where she got to go first and every present that she opened.
I’ll never forget the realization that day, over 20 years ago, when I resolved that for our family big birthday bashes for little Harrisons wasn’t a great match. I decided to hold off on hosting any more peer parties until our kids were old enough to appreciate each one of those friends who attended, old enough to know how to graciously receive gifts of all sizes, and old enough to appreciate the sacrifice Mom and Dad were making to provide such a party.
While that has been our family rule, our children have attended many great kid parties through the years at all ages and stages and we’ve been grateful to be a part of each one. This has merely been the rule at our house and what has seemed to work well for us. To birthday party or not, what kind, how elaborate, etc is something that each parent must decide is best for their child. Thankfully, I only had to decide for the children growing up in my house. Perhaps you’re wondering WHEN did that age come for our oldest? When she was turning nine, I finally felt she was ready to handle a big peer party in her honor. And so it became the Harrison family tradition that the first non-family birthday party would happen at age nine for each of our seven children.
This year, today, was the last of the special ninth birthday parties.
Emma invited three treasured, God-given friends. She spent all week shopping with me to pick out decorations, gifts for the friends, ingredients for fun food to make. She made name plates for each girl, picked out a hair ribbon color she thought each would enjoy, made little butterfly scenes out of grapes on a toothpick and cut strawberry slices for wings, little sprouts as grass and pretzel sticks as tree trunks… She had so much fun thinking of her friends’ fun!
Of course, I also served her favorite foods and had some surprise decorations that she wasn’t expecting. We had a butterfly pinata and a giant “Happy Birthday sign. It was truly a celebration of our treasured Emma! What was absent was the big green monster of pride. Now don’t get me wrong, our little princess in general has quite a strong will and does suffer from the same ailment that her mom has – an overabundance of bossiness and belief that her ideas are for sure the right ones. But there was not even a hint of the false reality that she should be the center of all attention and the recipient of all glory for the day.
Her sweet friends, I do believe, had a good time because they could tell that Emma had thoughtfully considered them in her planning. It was a celebration of friendship and of Emma! There are many things I still need to work on as a mom, even after all these years. Ugh, self-growth is a grind. I still am working on that whole bossiness problem (in myself and Emma), but today, on this last of the ninth Harrison birthday parties, today I enjoyed four smiling girls who were thankful for each other.
Walking this motherhood journey right along with you,
I’d love for you to share your birthday ideas – celebrating life without spoiling character…