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Say Yes to Birthdays

2016 October 4


I was walking up to my daughter’s school today for pick up, running a precise 4 minutes late as I tend to do, and crossed paths with a mom walking out with her son who was likely in 3rd or 4th grade (on her way out because she is apparently the precisely on-time for pick up mom I strive to be).

“So I am going to say no to that birthday party you were invited to,” she said to him, nonchalantly. “You don’t even know that boy.”

“Oh, Evan’s party?” he questioned, kicking the pebbles that crossed his path. “I know him…”

“You don’t, really,” she continued, making his mind up for him. “Let’s say no.”

I wanted to stop her in her tracks. I wanted to look her in the eye. I wanted to plead with her…

Say yes to birthdays!

We say yes to birthdays. Of course there are occasions when we’re out of town or sick or have another commitment, but if we can get there, we say yes.

We say yes to invitations from kids we barely know, kids we adore and consider family, kids we don’t see again after that school year has passed.

We say yes to birthdays.

We say yes because there are a lot of kids (or shall I say moms) out there who say no. And more importantly, there are a lot of lonely kids out there who are waiting, hoping, wishing for a yes.

We say yes because there are a lot of moms and dads out there who work really hard on these celebrations and invite the whole class – whether they know them or not. And that’s a sign of kindness, confidence and compassion that I want my kids to appreciate and embody every time we see it.

We say yes because for some kids sending out the invite (especially to kids they “don’t even know”) is a very important step. We say yes to them taking the leap, being a friend, including everyone.

And of course, we say yes to cake and balloons and pizza, too. Any time we get the invite.

I don’t know Evan. And I don’t know that mom I walked by today. Maybe her days are too busy? But maybe her son’s aren’t and he can go on his own. Or maybe her budget is too tight these days? So maybe she can just hand down some beloved books from her own son’s collection. Maybe Evan has been unkind to her son in the past? It didn’t sound like it, but if so, maybe this is the exact “yes” they both need to move past it? Maybe she doesn’t like his mom (because let’s be honest here…that is the reasoning behind more schoolyard situations than we probably care to admit)? And maybe that’s all the more reason to give the kids the opportunity to be kids, no mom strings attached.

I don’t know. I don’t know their scenario and that’s ok because it’s theirs and theirs alone. But we say yes to birthdays. And when we send out invites, we hope people say yes to ours. Because it always means a lot to our kids. It makes them happy to see their friends (close ones and not-so-close ones alike) come out to celebrate with them, to watch them blow out their candles, to eat too much pizza and go home with a sugar high. It makes us sincerely happy when they say yes to ours.

And we especially appreciate it when they are precisely four minutes late.

*image above – birthday cake cookies, how fun! – via My Baking Addiction

8 Responses
  1. Marie permalink
    October 4, 2016

    I love this. I tend to be the other mom, in an effort to leave some breathing room in our family’s schedule, but this made me rethink that approach. Because you’re right, and everything about birthdays should be fun, and nice, and filled with friends both old and new. And if that makes our Saturday a little busier, I should probably see that as a wonderful thing instead of a burden.

    • WWGD permalink*
      October 5, 2016

      Thanks, Marie! I totally agree about breathing room – I am the anti-activity mom on the weekends for that exact reason but I do really try with the birthdays. I also find the invites dwindle with every passing year as the kids grow up and have smaller celebrations so it gets easier 😉

  2. Neeha permalink
    October 5, 2016

    Love this post! So true.

  3. October 6, 2016

    Hmm…I will admit that I’m usually the other mom. Not because I don’t like the other mom, or because of anything between my kids and the kid that invited them. I do it for several reasons – because I like to protect our time, because so many people invite the entire class just because they think they’re supposed to or because they like the big parties, because I’ve watched my kids attend parties where they weren’t even sure whose birthday it was (but they were excited about those goodie bags!). I do talk to them about it, tell them about the invitation, and we decide together whether or not it makes sense for them to attend. (I also watch the evite list to make sure they’re getting decent attendance.) For them to attend a party for the kid in their class they don’t get along with just doesn’t make sense to me (unless said kid doesn’t have other friends, in which case we’d have a different conversation).

    ALL that said, this is a very thoughtful and positive post, and it will definitely make me be even more thoughtful the next time an invitation comes our way.

    • WWGD permalink*
      October 6, 2016

      Totally get it. And respect it. I just think that sometimes we’re protecting our time from the wrong things, if that makes sense. I agree about people who love big parties and invite the whole class on auto-pilot but I also kind of like those because if the whole class is there, I want my kid there socializing with everyone, too. And as they get older, I think that’s even more important. I have seen my daughter socialize with kids at parties that she doesn’t usually hang with at school if her usual suspect pals aren’t there and I love it. And HUGE kudos to you for eyeing the RSVP list…that is so thoughtful and really, I suppose, what it all comes down to most of the time for me. Thanks for taking the time to write 🙂

  4. Katie permalink
    October 11, 2016

    Love this post, I totally agree. I subscribe to the philosophy that if someone took the time to invite us, we should make every effort to be there. I respect the need to protect our family’s time and not leave us feeling overscheduled – but birthday parties are such a special celebration, that I think it’s time well spent.

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