What I Miss (About Kid’s Birthday Parties)

1.  Wishing

Wishing on candles with my eyes squeezed so tight they hurt.  And meaning it.  And believing in the process.  Like all those other years, I hadn’t concentrated enough.  Or maybe I hadn’t wished for something virtuous enough, so I would add a “Oh yeah, and world peace” at the end.  Then taking that full breath, feeling every pocket of lung expand, because this was for all the marbles, or whatever it was I wanted that year.


2.  Musical Chairs

(Image by David Maddison)

So much suspense.  Delicious tension.  Striving to achieve the balance between the hover and the sideways crab-walk.  The moment of stomach free-fall when the music actually ended.  The pure, unadulterated thrill of feeling a chair firmly planted beneath your bum, when you weren’t sure there would be one there.


3.  Leverage

When a playground spat got out of hand, you’d wait to pull it out:  “Oh yeah?  Well, you’re not invited to my BIRTHDAY!”   It didn’t matter how many disappointing parties you’d thrown in the past – it still carried a lot of weight.  Of course, there was always the Reverse Leverage, once you got to the party:  “Oh yeah?  Well, I’m taking my present BACK!”  There was a lot of diplomacy involved, year-round.


4.  Money in the Cake

Where I grew up, you had a Good Party if there were coins baked right into the cake.  But none of this namby pamby wrapping them in wax paper first shit.  No, the neighborhood moms just hucked them right into the batter.  Unwashed, probably.  We’d always offer them to the birthday kid, with the expectation that they’d say, “No, you keep ’em.”   And somehow, not one kid ever choked on an errant penny.


5.  Candles

(Image from here)

Or, more specifically, not having so many candles on the cake that the mother loving smoke alarms go off.


13 responses to “What I Miss (About Kid’s Birthday Parties)

  1. just dismantle the smoke alarm for the day darlin’

  2. i liked goodie bags for everyone – but i’m a bit of a socialist. felt a little guilty for getting all the loot, so it was nice that everyone got a parting gift…

  3. never heard of the money in the cake thing… hmmmmm, surprise!

    We could still play musical chairs and hot potato, right?

  4. I used to have coins in the cake too! Except they were wrapped in tin foil. And I had a filling in one of my baby teeth 😦 And at our school, or the daycare after school I suppose, the big thing was forks. If you were lucky enough to get a ‘diamond fork’ at lunch (they threw some dessert forks in the mix to stretch out supplies) well then YOU were invited EVERYWHERE. It was a golden ticket, dude.

    I was never really into cake though, so the best year was my 6th, when I got a ginourmous heart shaped Rice Krispie square. I then sneezed very loudly into my hands, rubbed it all over the unique texture and proudly offered out hunks to the family.

  5. What a great post! It’s all so true. We never wish for stuff anymore.

    I’ve never heard of coins being baked into the cake! I could just imagine the horror of my suburban mom friends were I to try that little trick!

  6. Fantastic! Coins being baked into the cake sounds a little dangerous, especially for someone like me who shovels cake into my cake hole without examining it first.

    Come to think of it, I’m having a hard time remembering the last birthday candles I blew out on which I truly made a birthday wish.

  7. Screw coins, let’s get some lincolns in there.

  8. I used to wet myself playing musical chairs all the time.

    I can’t handle excitement well.

  9. I still wish that hard.
    And love making a Greek New Year’s cake because of the dirty, dirty unwashed coin baked in for good luck.

  10. My first is on the way so I’ve got plenty of these memories ahead of me.

  11. Coins in the cake? My husband would keel over dead if he heard that. Around our house he is not so jokingly referred to as “Mister Safety”. I, on the other hand once left my three year old daughter in the bath in the house by herself while I greeted my hubs and chatted with a neighbor, “oh holy fuck, clare’s still in the tub!” Yes, I’m a bad bad mom.

  12. I was dreading our boy’s first BD party and it was a blast. We’ve got many more to come!

  13. Nursemyra: Unsafe. And clearly brilliant.

    daisyfae: The bag was the best part. You’ve inspired me. I’m going to make some grown up ones. Heh heh.

    Stephanie: Hot potato! Totally forgot about that one.

    Em: As soon as I read the words “tin foil”, my teeth shrieked. I’m so sorry.

    vinomom: Yeah, the coin thing just doesn’t play now. Good thing, because thanks to the recession, I’ll be damned if I’m giving my change to the neighborhood kids: I need to roll it for the phone bill!

    megan: The mom in charge DEFINITELY had to announce the money thing BEFORE we started eating. It slowed down even the fastest of shovelers.

    O.G.: Would the Lincolns burn? I’m to cheap to find out.

    Xbox: Wow, way to take it to the next level. You always had a chair, didn’t you? You’re an evil genius, sir.

    mongoliangirl: I’ll wish that hard this year, too. Even if it’s on a bic lighter plunged into a bran muffin.

    chowner: That’s awesome! When are you guys due?

    formerlyfun: I started by leaving the room while the kids were in the tub, but they had to sing, so I’d know they were OK. So I guess we’re going to hell together.

    Votive: Bleeping right.

    Free Man: The first ones are great. On the morning of his second birthday party, my son barfed in such a manner that he hit every piece of furniture in the living room. So we cancelled it. 2 hours later he was fine, and had an entire sheet cake to himself. Speaking of evil geniuses…

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