Parents, Heed This Warning

If you have a young child, get yourself some kind of reminder system and have this little note e-mailed to you about six months before your child’s 8th birthday “DO NOT HAVE AN 8TH BIRTHDAY PARTY!!!!!!!!” Instead, plan a one or two kid sleepover or movie/bowling/Chuck E. Cheese event. Seriously, do not plan a party for more than three children.

We went to the worst party today. It wasn’t that it was poorly planned, lacking cake or anything else (I went to the most poorly planned birthday party in the history of the world last June). It was simply that a big group of eight year old’s can’t seem to function as a group. I’ve been to a lot of kiddie parties and never have I seen so many crying meltdowns. Nor have I ever seen such a brawl as the one we had to break-up. It was in-freaking-sane.

It was our good friend’s birthday–Irish Lad, the little boy Erik has been besties with since they were two years old. We spend a lot of time together and are in a good place right now, so Mike and I hung around to help manage the party. It was a home party with pizza, cake and a variety of board games. But nobody wanted to play any of the board games. None of the kids could agree on anything And eight year olds? They are big. Shrieking, running, jumping and all of that rambunctious energy that is annoying in four year olds becomes something all together different in eight year olds.

Erik’s eighth birthday was back in October and it was definitely the last big party we will have. We noticed at the time that bringing together kids from different areas of his life simply doesn’t work anymore. At this age they are much more aware of their social setting and less willing to include people from outside of their circle. They tend to have a couple of good friends and don’t want to include people outside of that clique. I need to read a book about 8 year old development to see if that is really what’s going on. Erik’s party was not a complete fail, but only because we only had four guests show up (which was sort of a fail in itself).

After the party today I went and met up with one of my long time friends who moved to Virginia last year, which means I never see her. She just had her son’s 8th birthday party last week and she said the same thing–never again. I guess their party went pretty much the same as the party today–the kids just couldn’t get along. However, I don’t think there was actual physical violence at her party.

So I’m taking these three separate parties and coming to one conclusion: never host an 8 year old party.

More about this party: Erik was one of the kids having a complete meltdown. All the other guests go to a different school together so they don’t know Erik. He is one of the popular kids at his school and the ring leader of a lot of games. He has respect and is known for having good ideas. The kids at this party did not know about his awesomeness and completely ignored him. He is not used to being ignored.

They were all really bored and didn’t want to play the board games the hosts provided, so I taught them a more active game called Alien Invasion. The game requires the kids to work together, but they couldn’t manage to pull it together and come up with a plan to defeat the evil aliens (Mike and Irish Lad’s dad). Also, they were being super wimpy about it, which was frustrating Erik. We had to stop the game after he came downstairs and was legit sobbing and saying he wanted to go home. Not at all appropriate behavior, which we talked to him about. But I didn’t really blame him because two of the kids were being super jerky.

Then the kids all went outside to get out some energy and that’s when the brawl started. I don’t really know what started it, but there was a pile-up of three kids, including the birthday boy. He wanted everyone to leave, and I don’t blame him. The whole party dragged on way too long and the kids were sniping at each other and fighting.

I told my friend that we should get the kids in their shoes and coats and have them waiting at the door when the parents showed up. She thought I was joking, but I was dead serious. Those kids needed to get out of there.

So yeah. . . . long day, and not even a party for my kid. We really needed to break out some booze during the party.

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