Partying, pre-princess style
There are two problems with planning kiddette's 2nd birthday party. One is that it's her 2nd birthday party, not her 3rd. The other is that she's apparently not girly-girl enough for the party gods just yet.
The big party-type supply store I went to -- because where else are you going to get matching themed cups, plates, napkins and goodie bags? The kids might walk out if the plates don't have cartoon characters on them -- had separate aisles for girls' parties and boys' parties. Kiddette has a thing for monkeys these days. Not sure why, although she does enjoy climbing the dining room chairs, so maybe she's feeling a kinship. At any rate, no monkeys in the girls' aisle. Just Dora and Disney Princess and that creepy sub-anime excuse for My Little Ponies they're selling these days and I think there was Strawberry Shortcake, so really moms with '80s nostalgia were pretty well covered. Lots of pink. Lots of frilly.
The monkeys were in the boys' aisle. Curious George, specifically, along with Lightning McQueen and Buzz Lightyear and Mickey Mouse. I'm not sure why monkeys were declared to be a boy thing. Or why there isn't a gender-neutral aisle. Or why the characters you could arguably classify as gender-neutral -- Mickey Mouse, for instance -- were shoved into the boy aisle.
I mean, I'll be happy to do the pink cutesy slumber party thing when kiddette is old enough to want it, and get her a tiara and paint her nails and wear earplugs so I can politely ignore all the girly screeching. But she isn't old enough just yet. Why I should feel locked into pinkness at age 2 is beyond me.
Goodie bags were another issue. I know there are parents bravely bucking the cheap plastic crap goodie bag military industrial complex, and more power to them, but if I took that stance I would be doing so all by myself, and thus look like the mean cheapie mom. Also, I remember really liking the goodie bags when I was a kid. I should deprive my kids' guests of that small pleasure just because I know the cheap plastic crap will break or be lost two days later?
The real problem is that everything in the store was labeled "ages 3 and up." I also know that a lot of people blow off that particular warning, but it always makes me a little nutty when my kids are given toys they're so clearly not old enough to play with yet -- too advanced, too many parts, too easily breakable -- but they want to anyway, and my best hope is they'll get distracted long enough that I can hide the toy until they age into it. I didn't want to do that to the other parents, in case they're, you know, as anal as I am. So I went through every single rack of goodie bag-type stuff I could find, studying every package for age-appropriateness. I found the same itty-bitty Play-Doh tins that we've gotten from nearly every party we've gone to, and a pack of little duckies. Not really fitting the theme, unless it's a monkey-duck party.
I also found a bunch of giant-size super bouncy balls. No way they would fit into a kid's mouth, and yet: "ages 3 and up." In fact they were listed as a choking hazard. After some thought I decided the only way that was even possible would be if the kid gnawed on the ball long enough to break smaller pieces off, and then choked on that. Which, sorry, if the parents are paying so little attention that they fail to notice their kid is filleting a bouncy ball with his teeth, there's not a whole lot to be done about that. The kid might as well be playing "Hide the Fork in the Toaster."
Out of sheer exasperation, I went with the balls and some Curious George stickers, and that will have to do. I think the odds are against freak bouncy ball accidents.
I do think this whole party supply thing is just not geared toward toddlers. So theoretically, it should get easier as she gets older. Except for the pinkness.
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