Open Thread

Monday Flashback OT: Birthday Parties

Happy Monday, Persephoneers! If you are in the US, I hope your taxes are done. I’ve got a simple question to ask tonight, as my family gears up for “birthday season.” 

My son is turning four in June and is dreaming about his birthday party. One day, he’s having a Thomas party, the next day, it’s Transformers. My daughter turns seven in August, and she fluctuates between Barbie, My Little Pony and Disney Princesses.

As far as carrying out a theme, mostly I make sure the character they pick is on the cake, and maybe the napkins match.

So the question is, what was your favorite character birthday? When I turned 10, I had my first slumber party AND my birthday cake was from the bakery (unusual in my house) with Smurfette on it. It was awesome enough that I can picture it nearly 30 years later.

How about you? Has your week started off on a good note?

55 replies on “Monday Flashback OT: Birthday Parties”

So, this year was the first year I had taxes to do, as far as I know.

…And I didn’t do them.

In order to do them, I have to get some forms from the place I briefly worked last year, but I’m in an avoidance pattern when it comes to calling them because that job was SO MISERABLE and just thinking of anything to do with it sends my stress levels skyrocketing.

I think I’m also avoidance-patterning because I’m trying to focus on school despite the shitty living situation (so that takes ALL my energy), and also since I’ve never DONE taxes before, it seems like this huge impossible stressful deal.

Why does this shit have to come so close to the end of the semester??

Yup, it’s the W2 that I don’t have. They might have sent it to my old address, which never got forwarded to me. But I don’t really feel like I should blame them for that, since I didn’t file for a change of address.

I don’t know, there’s a lot of other things I COULD blame with what other people have done, but I feel like I could have prevented it without too much work on my part.

As someone who goes into avoidance pattern over stress as well, the best thing I have found to do when I am freaking out is to shut off as much as possible the “SHOULD HAVE!” part of my brain and try and work on the “What can I do moving forward.” Procrastination is not a cardinal sin, and all you can do now is move forward. It’s ok. This isn’t the end of the world. You should be able to file for an extension, and if you only worked a little bit, the government probably owes you, not the other way around so the IRS will probably not be pounding down your door. They only really get mad if you should have payed and you didn’t.

If you are owed a refund, there is no penalty for filing late to my knowledge, but I would still try and efile for an extension, and I have never owed taxes from my part time job even when I was declared as a dependent on my parent’s taxes.

We weren’t big on the theme cakes, but my mother must be Wonder Woman. Most of my birthday parties were epic. When I turned 11, she set up a fancy dinner party for me and my friends and a giant projector screen, so we could have “Dinner and a Movie” Night. She even found movie ticket shaped invitations and we filled popcorn buckets with candy and stuff for everyone. Then when I was 13 we had a 70s party, where everyone came dressed in hippi clothes and we made purses out  of old jeans and played twister. My mom is the best. :)

Oh goodness, we’re gearing up for birthday season, too. Next month Juniper Junior and I will be having celebrations! As a kid, I think my favourite character cake was Postman Pat. I feel kind of bad that I can’t remember all the awesome cakes my Mum made. For Juniper Junior (and me!) we’re doing The Gruffalo this year but how I’m going to translate that into cake form, I’ve yet to think about. Eep!

My mom has been baking theme-birthday-cakes until I was ..twelve or something (and with an exception for my 22th because I had complained about missing cool cakes).

So I have had a yellow sun hat, the Bat Man logo, a My Little Pony, Skipper and Barbie cake, flower garden and so on. I really don’t know why it should stop at a certain age and seeing as this year I might be at the parents during my birthday, I will puppy-eye myself into a cool birthday cake.

I don’t remember ever having a character birthday party- my family was always more focused on events. My favorites involved renting out a gymnastics academy – all the kids got to run around like animals on trampolines and foam pits for an hour, then got pizza and cake in a party room after.

I had a lot of great cakes but those were always the most elaborate part of my parties. We didn’t have a lot of money, but I can’t ever remember not having a good time at my parties.

One of my favorite cakes was a Wonder Woman cake. P-Maggers, I loved this cake so much I tracked down the vintage cake mold set on ebay and bought it. I’m saving it for a special occasion.

*sigh*  i may not know you all well enough to share this, but i’m going to anyway.

my son is four and i would take a bullet for that little munchkin.  i love him so much it hurts.  however, he is incapable of sleeping by himself, or playing by himself, or doing anything by himself.  he’s an only child and my husband and i have always been his primary source of entertainment.

the sleeping is what’s really getting to me.  my husband and i trade nights sleeping in his room with him.  do you have any idea how long it has been since i have had sex with my husband?  i don’t even want to type it.  it’s been a long, long time.  i’m honestly starting to resent my kid.  the child i love more than anything in this world.

and the thing is, we did it to ourselves.  we thought the only way to be good parents was to be at our kid’s beck and call 24/7.  so now at four, our son expects nothing less than his parent’s complete attention at any hour of the day.

of course, everyone has an opinion on what we should do.  we should just make him be by himself, we should just tell him that he needs to grow up, we need to get him a sleep training clock, we need to give him herbal anti-stress drops, we need to play this special bedtime game that someone played with their kid to get them to go to bed by themselves and that will just solve everything.  come on, toughen up, what’s your problem, just fix it, be the parent, show ’em who’s boss, win one for the gipper.

the more advice i get, the worse i feel as a parent.  i am truly at my wit’s end.

and  i miss my husband so much.

oh hugs to you!!! My son loooovvvesss to sleep with us too! We play musical beds many, many, many nights, and if he makes it through til morning in his own bed, I have that panic a you have when an infant first sleeps through the night and you have to check on him to make sure he’s ok.

What we started doing was having him sleep on a sleeping bag in the floor of our room. This way, he’s near by, but not IN BED. Eventually, the novelty wore off & he stayed in his own bed for awhile. Lately though, he’s become more stealth and will wedge himself between us in the middle of the night. He eventually kicks one of us awake, and then that person tends to go sleep in his bed. It’s sad, but true.

However you break the habit, it’s going to be really, really hard, and you’re probably going to lose a lot of sleep. BUT in the end, getting your bed and your hubby back will make it totally worth it!

Good luck!!


OUr daughter is seven and she still shows up in our bed sometimes. Not often these days, but sometimes. Just figure out what kind of language he will understand to get the point across that sometimes mommy and daddy want to sleep alone. It took us time, and sometimes carrying her back to her bed after she fell asleep in ours, but eventually we got there. You aren’t bad parents, and four is not too old to change a habit. Use your desperation to strengthen your resolve to get him into his own bed.

Use your desperation to strengthen your resolve to get him into his own bed.

That’s not a way I have thought about it.  I like that idea of channeling my frustration into pushing this issue.  And let me tell you, I haven’t gotten laid in so long I have no end of frustration to channel!

It may help to initiate some “alone time” during the day as well. Just an hour or so to start, but make sure that there’s time when he knows that you or your husband are to be left alone, and that he should be playing in his room (or outside) by himself.

It will be hard on him at the beginning, but possibly not as hard as it will be for you. He will adjust, I promise.

we did it to ourselves

This is going to come somewhere under the “advice” umbrella, so, apologies. But your little one is part of it, too. With the same parenting, different kids will behave differently. Juniper Junior is, fortunately, like me – he sleeps – but he was in our room until he was three. We tried to move him to his own bed and ended up with a similar situation to yours, so we brought his bed back into our room until we decided to give it another go of him being in his own room. When the right time came along, it was the right time and at almost five, he doesn’t come into our bed unless he’s unwell, or he’s woken up a little early. You must be sick and tired of recommendations, but Toddler Taming by Christopher Green has brought us a lot of comfort, if anything for the funny stories from his own family life and others’, and the comfort of knowing other people get driven round the bend by their kids, too.

I will for sure check that book out.  I shouldn’t have been so exclusionary with the advice comment.  I really am looking for solutions, but the advice I’m getting is from folks who know us IRL and I think that’s what makes it hard to take – I see these people daily and they hound me for status updates!  Thank you very much for sharing your perspective – I really appreciate it.

Good gracious, your feelings on advice are quite reasonable. It can be downright awful when people expect updates on advice they’ve given, especially if it’s advice that is utterly inappropriate to your situation. Don’t forget how far you’ve come, either. You’ve all survived four years of nights – that’s quite something.

It sounds like you are having a really hard time, which I am so sorry for. I know sleeping arrangements can be difficult for parents, and it sounds like you’re getting a major dose of the guilt trip along with the advice you’re receiving. The most important thing is that you are clearly a wonderful mother who really loves her son. Transitioning him to his own bed will be hard but you are not the only parent to ever face this problem. And you and your husband have each other to do it together.

I will say that I have the perspective of a child whose parents weren’t as proactive about getting her out of their bed. I really wish they had just dealt with it when I was young rather than let it continue, even if it required a bit of the tougher brand of love. I really wanted them to set more boundaries and to make me stay in my own bed – I was always embarrassed about wanting to sleep in theirs but didn’t know how to stop doing it. I eventually had to wean myself out of the practice, while still also being terrified of the dark looooong past an age where I should have been. I still feel embarrassed about it as an adult and always lie about it in person. So your son may actually appreciate the change internally, even if he acts very upset about it.

Each child is different and I don’t know yours, but I will say that I think what would have worked for me would have been either: 1. My parents telling me that they were going to lock their door (I would have probably slept outside their door the first few nights but then gone back to my own bed), or 2. If every time I got in their bed, they had just walked me back to mine and then gone back to theirs. Even if I did that 10 times the first night, it would have happened less and less. Maybe if they had done 2 and then 1, I could have adjusted slowly? Another thing is that when I did finally transition myself into sleeping in my own bed, I did lay awake for hours at night the first few weeks. It was a sleepless time but I eventually wore myself out and figured that if any monsters were under the bed, I was too tired to run anyway!  (Also, what did not work was decorating my room so that it felt like a safe/attractive space for me. Of course I loved choosing things for my room, but it didn’t help me to stay in my bed at night.)

Anyway, I hope this isn’t more useless advice for you, but I thought maybe the perspective of someone who remembers being in your child’s position might be helpful! Good luck and I hope you and your husband get lots of quality time together soon.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this perspective.  This makes a lot of sense and I haven’t really thought about this from my son’s future point of view.  I remember having a friend in grade school who could never stay a whole night at a slumber party.  We all knew that round about 9 o’clock, Natalie would call her parents to come pick her up.  I know she was embarrassed about it and I wouldn’t want to make my guy “that kid.”  Thanks so much.

I don’t really have any good advice/stories as far as the kid since the extent of my parenting experience has come from helping out from time to time with my nieces and nephews, but is it at all possible to, say, get a babysitter every so often and have some sort of date night? Or preferably have the kid babysat at a different location to help facilitate being able to have sexytimes.

the munchkin’s day care does a once-a-month parent’s night out where the kids can stay at the center till 10:30.  they feed them dinner, get them in their jammas, it’s pretty cool.  we took advantage of it when he was little, but now that we live out in the country if we wanted to use that we’d either have to stay in town, or drive 17 miles to our house then 17 miles back to pick him up then 17 miles back home.  we’ve never left him with a babysitter other than immediate family or at the care center – again, that’s all on us for not feeling like he was “ready” for a babysitter.

i think a big part of my frustration it is knowing what we could have done when he was younger to make this time easier – getting him on our schedule rather than rearranging our schedule to fit his, teaching him to sleep in his own room as an infant, insisting that he try new foods, etc.  we don’t plan on having more children, so there’s not even that feeling of doing it better next time around to placate me.

I do think getting him used to having someone besides us take care of him, even for a short while, is on the immediate to-do list for our family.

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I think you’re being way too hard on yourself. If there’s anything I’ve taken from other people talking about parenting is that since there’s no rulebook (and even if there was, since kids can be so different, what works for one might not work for another), you’re basically just taking snippets of what you hear and trying to do what’s best for your kid. And sometimes you’re going to make mistakes.

…But that’s okay! I know this issue is going to be harder to address now, but I’m sure there’s plenty of things that you HAVE done right, and it’s not too late to fix these problems.

And as for how to fix it, only you, your husband, and your kid will be able to determine what will work best for all of you. Just keep in mind what you find most important and keep trying to get there!

You’re sweet to say that. And I’m sue I am being too hard on myself. It’s just really hard not to fall into that spiral where your brain catastrophises everything until you’re sure you’ve destined your child to be the socially-inept kid at school. And if it weren’t the kid, I’m sure my brain would find something else to obsess over. Yay dysfunction!

My mom was super-mom.  Seriously.  Looking back on my childhood I’m in awe at all of the random things she did for my brother and I.

Favorite character themed birthday was mickey mouse (I requested it when I was 2, 3, AND 4….so obviously I was obsessed). Other favs include strawberry shortcake, Barbie (it of course included a Barbie that had a skirt made out of cake), Lisa Frank (I collected and traded stickers), and Beauty and the Beast.

Oh, and my brother totally had a Thomas party.  We had some good times with his Brio set.


We never did character themed birthdays at my house. We always had Carvel ice cream cake or regular bakery cake. I actually don’t like birthday cake. I do remember asking for a Harry Potter birthday cake from when I was about 13 til, well now. My parents keep thinking it’s a joke. I don’t know why. However, when I was very little and living in Mexico, my birthday cake was always Mexico-themed, since my birthday is Independence Day there. I had lots of green white and red. I miss the jellos they used to make for me.

We didn’t do themed parties growing up, but for birthdays, my aunts would often buy 10 to 15 different blocks of ice cream, throw them in a big bowl with 80 bizillion different types of toppings, give all the kids a spoon, and videotape the chaos.

Sounds gross now, all of us slobbering communally into a big bowl of ice cream, but I haven’t forgotten those ice cream bowls. Not even one of them.

My only contribution is thus;

My friend skyped me today randomly, so I answer with my bowl of garlic bread (nom) and my water-filter-full peroni glass (less yum, but necessary to human existance) and immediately, as soon as the call starts, my friend goes –


Thus I became Dick Turgid, alter ego of The Masked Cupola, who rains down diva cups for as yet unsaved women (my friend hate-reads The Other Blog).

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