Thursday, June 4, 2009

Birthday Wars

At LaLa's school they have "Birthday Lunches" for the children.  Yes, it sounds nice in theory, but let me explain the problem.  At the beginning of the year in LaLa's Reception class there were 27 children, but most of them left at lunch time (as they were only 4 years old) and went home.  That left 12 kids for lunch and the remainder of the day.  For a "Birthday Lunch"  the child is allowed to pick 8 kids for their table at their special lunch.  Most of the time at the beginning of the year the parent of the birthday kid would generally just pick up the tab and pay for the other 4 children to join in at the birthday table.  Now, all the kids stay all day.  It has made these "Birthday Lunches" quite a problem.  They have become competitive.  

Lets say "Johnny" is having a birthday and he picks 8 kids to attend.  Now there are 19 kids left out.  The parents mumble "so is your child going to Johnny's birthday lunch?"  If it is a no and your child is a girl they say something like "Oh he must have just invited the boys..."  If you say yes, then they say something like "Oh...alright" and you can tell they are mulling it over why their child was not picked.  If both parties got invited it is like they are in a special club together.  

Now frankly, LaLa could care less if she is picked for a "Birthday Lunch" cause she doesn't like eating the school's hot dinners.  She would rather have her packed lunch of a peanut butter sandwich, YoGo Bits, and crackers and cheese.  She likes it when she is picked, but she always complains that she doesn't want the hot dinner.  I usually pack her lunch even if she has the Birthday Lunch but she always returns home with it.  I assume she eats what she is given, but the child is picky, so I dunno.  

This week LaLa was picked for two "Birthday Lunches".  Actually, she has been picked for most of them this year.  While I love the fact that her peers like her, I am sick of having to rationalize the fact that she got picked while another child has not been.  When she isn't picked, to me it is just not a big deal.  Maybe she just isn't very good friends with that child or maybe that child just ran out of places for their friends; not a big deal.  I hate the competitive moms who have to judge all the children and why they were picked or not picked.  It is another version of the Mommy Wars that is being propagated by the schools shortsighted policy.  It just makes me glad that LaLa's birthday is near Christmas and therefore during a school break and I don't have to deal with it.

28 comments:

Irish Gumbo said...

I know what you mean, even if well-intentioned it doesn't take long for the judgement to begin.

And that kind of war I don't want to get caught in...

The Dental Maven said...

I've backed away from my son's school as much as possible just so I don't have to deal with all the "Happy Moms."

mo.stoneskin said...

That sounds crazy, the politics, the gossip, the drama. In some ways I'm astonished they even orchestrate these "Birthday Lunches", surely the tension, insecurities and gossip are not worth it?!

Single Parent Dad said...

Having to deal with the birthday parties is bad enough, to add the school to that too, well, more than is necessary. I suppose they are teaching the kids lessons by doing it, but they should also enroll the parents into a 'don't interfere, the kids will work it out just fine' class.

Margarita said...

That sounds like the most brutal thing. I mean, let's just sing happy birthday and be done with it!

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Cammie said...

oy. this is one part of starting school this fall I am NOT looking forward to

Blogging Betty said...

Them folks is weird. When I was in school, we would celebrate the birthdays of the month by picking one Friday where we could bring cupcakes for the entire class or snack foods and coke/pop/soda. But that's a Louisiana education, more centered around potlucks and eating than actual learning.

Bobby G said...

WOW thats NUTS! that basically is just making a segregated situation where people get left out, not very good schooling! lol

Sarah said...

Ohlala you have the popular kid! haha

Kurt said...

I solve this problem by not talking to other parents. That way I'm the scary recluse shut-in Dad! Yay!

for a different kind of girl said...

This seems like an odd "tradition." When we were in school, at least where I went, you just brought treats in for the entire class. That's what my boys do still. Of course, since the treats have to be store bought and individually wrapped, it's pretty much like the day of the month when they have to bring snack for the class, but whatever. Anyway, if there is only a small number of kids who stay for lunch, the school really should retool the plan for this and just acknowledge the day as the designated child's bday and then everyone joins in. To leave so few kids out of the mix is uncomfortable.

Badass Geek said...

It should be an all-or-nothing thing. I don't think it to be fair to leave kids out like that.

Employee No. 3699 said...

I think it’s ludicrous that the school even does that. Either all the children should be allowed to celebrate or none at all. Just my opinion.

Sandy said...

Way to go to up the competition at a very early age. Sounds like lots of hurt feelings by the end of the year.

The Laughing Idiot said...

I have one of those 'popular' kids. It's not a problem at the pre-school, the problem is the birthday party itself.

The first year we invited the entire class (25)and had it at Pump-It-Up. This last year we only invited the girls to a Princess party (13 girls - hosted outside of our home). We just bought a new house and I'll be darned if I'm going to have that many 3-5 year-olds spilling kool-aid on my new carpet!

As a result, this gets very expensive because my girls' birthdays are only six days apart so we get the double whammy.

I'm glad they are getting older and thus a little more selective on their friendships. Maybe next year we can get it to less than 10.

Swoozie said...

Uh Oh! I'm surprised the school does that kind of thing! I, for one, wouldn't want to get caught up in any of that drama either.

It is HAPPY birthday, afer all......

A very interesting post!

Lisa said...

Wow, that's worse than high school! It's no wonder the kids in high schools are so damn mean! They learned at FIVE! I don't even know what to say. I have no advice. This is just shocking that they do it this way. It would be so much easier to have the parents bring a cake everyone could enjoy, and just eat their own damn lunches!

blissfully caffeinated said...

That's a really weird way to handle a kids birthday and the opposite of how our preschool does it. In fact, a few parents had gone completely overboard for birthdays at our preschool and the school completely banned parents from bringing in party stuff. In the kindergarten here if you are not inviting everyone then your child is not allowed to pass out invites in class. Better that than to hurt someone's feelings.

Captain Dumbass said...

What a stupid idea. Way to screw up your kids right from the beginning.

Sprite's Keeper said...

Those damn Brits and their superiority. :-)
Actually, I remember the same thing at my own elementary school where the birthday kid got a special part of the table and got to invite five people to sit with her. They did away with it during the whole equality revolution, but oh well. I don't remember being insulted either way..

Jen said...

Mommy wars are no fun!

SweetPeaSurry said...

This is actually one of my biggest pet peeves. People and kids need to learn that they aren't going to get picked for everything. A situation like this is an excellent learning experience and TEACHING experience for parents. I wish more of them would see that.

Eventually, when you're a grown up and stuff, you have to interview for jobs, and I hate to burst these parents' bubble ... but they don't HIRE everyone in the interest of fairness!!! These people need to just learn to live with it, disappointment is a fact of life.

Well done for rising above it!

Expat mum said...

Gawd, that's outrageous. What is the school thinking. At our school the policy is if you're going to invite more than half the class (of 18) to a party you should invite everyone. You're not allowed to hand out invitations or presents through the school, and on a child's birthday, s/he brings in little cakes for everyone. It sometimes sounds a bit "peace and love" but it works and there's none of this BS.

Auntie A said...

My heart goes out to all who are not picked. The school should do away with this terrible tradition.
Love everyone is a better message, than pick some and make the others feel like "@%#$."
xoxo

Sammanthia said...

I think that's one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. There's ALWAYS going to be a kid who never gets picked, and that would break my heart. It's bad enough that kids get into the whole clique thing in middle school, to encourage it in elementary school is sheer stupidity.

A Modern Mother said...

I'm surprised they do this, sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

Can I put this on Expat Mums?

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Next year is going to be interesting to see how the Princess Nagger does since she'll be in school full days instead of just 1/2 days...she tends to be the 'popular' kid because she's friendly to everyone, but just wait until there's a time when she doesn't get 'picked' for something...ugh! Seems a bad way for a school to instill those insecurities in kids at an early age...

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