Many years ago, even before Aanya was born, I had attended a birthday party. The son of a relative’s had turned one and they had thrown a big fat first birthday party. And boy, what a party it was! Big banquet hall, guest list running into a couple of hundreds and more, magician, tattoo makers, bouncing castle, nail art, chocolate fountain, tables groaning under the weight of marshmallows, candies (of all shapes, colours, sizes and tastes), live stations of pasta, khow suey, pizza etc. and food from every corner of the world (isn’t corner a wrong word here? Anyways you got my point).
The little angel was stylishly dressed in a black kurta-churidar and Nehru jacket looking dapper and handsome. While the invitees were having a gala time, the same, sadly, couldn’t be said for the little cherub. Nor for his parents. He was perched on his mother’s arm and looking suspiciously at the army of unknown people before him. Then somebody went up to him and pinched his soft chubby cheeks. The little hero didn’t like that one bit and the next instant he started howling. The parents had a helluva time juggling between the guests and the little boy who just wouldn’t stop crying. They somehow managed to cut the cake (a beautiful three-tier concoction of chocolate and blue icing) and got some photographs clicked. But you can imagine the photographs, the poor lad crying and his parents stretching their lips into somewhat believable smiles, looking exhausted and inwardly praying for the entire show to get over. The mother soon left with the birthday boy while the father stayed behind to see to the guests and the party.
A couple of such more incidences and my mind was made: no first birthday party for my child(ren). What’s the point? The birthday party that’s supposed to be fun turns out a big pooper for the birthday child. At one, most infants or toddlers go through stranger anxiety. Neither they are comfortable with the horde of unknown faces nor with those strange rough hands pulling their cheeks or petting them. It’s not a memorable experience for the kid or their parents who are torn between a cranky child and a swarm of people they are supposed to attend to. Where’s the fun and happy memories? Isn’t it better to wait a little longer for your child to grow up and then throw a big birthday bash for him/her that he is going to remember for years to come?
So when Aanya turned one, we didn’t keep a big party for her. And don’t think we didn’t have our share of family members pushing us and sending us on guilt trips. But we stood firm. We invited Aanya’s friend who is a neighbour and whom she meets daily. We ordered a chocolate cake; the girls smeared the cake all over and had their fun. Not a single tear was shed.
The second birthday came; Aanya was now introduced to the idea of singing the ‘happy birthday’ song. So we invited a few family members. As Aanya knew them, she was comfortable with their presence. Though she didn’t yet know how to blow the candles, she loved the cake and the fact that so many people were singing ‘’happy birthday to Aanya”. What’s more, that cake was her lunch and dinner that day!
Third birthday, we don’t know. It lot depends on her comfort level with people. But one thing’s for sure, come her fifth birthday and it’s going to be a big and rocking birthday party with the family, relatives, her friends and our friends. Also, it will be something that she will enjoy and remember forever!