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Birthday Conundrum

It’s Simon’s birthday in a few weeks. Last year, owing to his being at a new school, we skipped the class birthday party and stuck with a family one. Having now gone to at least a dozen class parties in the last year, it’s Simon’s turn to host his school friends. So I booked a party at Mockingbird Valley, a local indoor soccer complex, because much as I loved our farm party and our Nature Center party, soccer is Simon’s greatest passion.

Mockingbird provides field time with games and coaches, a party room, and invitations. This should be the easiest birthday party ever. Except we’re too weird to have anything be easy and straight-forward. To wit:

  1. Simon does not want a cake. He doesn’t like cake and has even begun refusing it at other people’s parties. After the last class bash, Matt treated him to a smoothie afterwards. I figured I’d order or (heaven forbid) attempt to bake soccer decorated cookies. Except . . .
  2. It’s traditional to bring cookies or cupcakes to school on the actual day, too. And as Simon likes cake in neither its original nor diminutive form, that sort of leaves cookies as the logical choice to bring to school. Except . . .
  3. Truth be told, he’d rather have extra PE for his birthday, something that was an option last year but might not be this year. For the record, Simon was one of only two students out of a class of 25 who opted for extra PE over sugar last year. Absent a PE option, he’d rather just go on and not have his precious math and science time interrupted by “another party with disgusting cake”.
  4. Then there’s the toy issue: Simon doesn’t really play with toys. He likes tennis, running, soccer, board games, card games, Putt Putt, hiking, drumming, reading, maps, math, and punk rock. I’d love it if he loved Lego, but it’s not his thing. Nor are most other items found in the toy aisle at Target. I can’t think of ONE present we’ve gotten for a friend that Simon would want for himself.* So I feel like we should do a no-presents party. Except . . .
  5. No one has done one of those, either! We went to one no-presents party hosted by a KIP friend during the preschool era, one party with a book exchange, and one party where the birthday girl was collecting items to donate to an orphanage. But no one has gone this route at Brandeis. I’d be tempted to a donation drive for something like the One World Futbol Project, except . . .
  6. I don’t want to presume that everyone has the interest or cash to take such specific instructions. More to the point, well intentioned or not, I’d feel rude telling people what they are supposed to be getting Simon. Therefore, I feel like our options are to say nothing and figure out what to do with the presents later or just bite the bullet and have a no-presents party.

If you are keeping score at home, I’ve just described a birthday celebration that ideally features no cake, no class cupcakes, likely no presents, and possibly extra PE. And while this is all fine and dandy for us, I’m wondering if it’s going to look like we are punishing our child to others. I mean, why not take Simon on a forced march for his birthday? Actually, he might like that . . .

*I’m struggling with suggestions for family. Most of what I can think of is too small (an Aerobie frisbee; a compass; Ten Days in the Americas board game) or too big (a US Map rug for his room, a Stephen Gerrard jersey, a soccer rebounder, a play tee-pee). I think what he’d most like would be for Grandma and Papaw to play tennis and golf with him, for Bubbie to keep on going to Putt Putt with him, for Uncle Steve to take him on a run and then to a batting cage, for Uncle Perry to take him to the driving range, etc. My present to him, if you’re wondering, is a basketball court behind the house and a session of pilates. He wants to learn more of the good groin stretches to use after a long run.

One Response to “Birthday Conundrum”

  1. goldsteinrita says:

    I would be glad to help you bake cookies for school. They could be sugar or peanut butter and then use icing to decorate with a soccer ball?? As for as gifts go, you can always take whatever does not really interest Simon to Home of the Innocents. They would be thrilled to have them.

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