friendship

Help! My son's birthday party is getting out of control.

This guest list is getting more political than the Oscars.

I’m staring at a guest list with over 40 people on it.

It feels endless.

Like an Oscars after-party out of control.

And it needs to be culled. Sliced and diced. To 10.

Ten little boys who will win the golden ticket to my son’s 7th birthday party.

It’s a task I am finding completely beyond me.

I am not exaggerating here. Finishing my tax return is looking like a giddy fest of fun in comparison to culling that list.

As our children get older, we can end up with a very long list of friends to invite and some difficult decisions to make.

The problem is that there are just so many people to invite. When you get past family and cousins and classmates there are the soccer team friends, the neighbours, the kids in French class.

Last year’s kinder friends. The boys in year 2 he plays with before school.

The older brothers, the younger siblings.

We drew up the list together.

And then we drew up another list.

And then another.

It seems his “best friends” seem to be on a rotating basis at the moment.

How did it get so out of control?

When I was a child birthday parties were something that happened every second year or so. They were small affairs with four or five friends. One year I even had the whole event in my bedroom.. pin the tail on the donkey on the back of the cupboard door, and chocolate crackles on the carpet.

This year my son wants to have a birthday party at a bowling alley. At first I leapt at the idea.

No mess, no baking, no sticky lollies shoved under the couch. No steamers strewn throughout the garden.

But the cost of these parties is out of control. So I have capped the numbers at 10.

What I can’t figure out is how to work out whom to invite.

So many questions running through my mind as I stare at the list.

Those neighbourhood children who he plays with on a weekend, will they be offended if they aren’t invited?

Can I invite just one of the two twins in his soccer team?

If the boy down the road comes will he want to bring his big brother too?

And the reciprocal invitations. If you invited my child to your child’s party do we HAVE to return the favour?

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My soon-to-be-seven year old doesn’t see the reason for it. “But why should I invite him?’ he asked me “ We don’t even play any more?”.

I wondered myself, to tell you the truth.

It is not so much that I am concerned with what the other Mums will think.

Surely they will realise it is not a personal slur against them that their child didn’t make the cut.

What makes me anxious is the thought of hurting the feelings of one of the kids.

That stomach-churning feeling when you realise that all of those around you did something special and you were the only one left out.

Those memories of being the only one in 2B not invited to Rachel Smith’s McDonald’s party in 1981.

These days it is a growing trend to just invite the whole class to a birthday party.

In fact many schools have policies in place to ensure that this actually takes place. It is either all or none.

In 2013 a UK headmaster’s letter went viral when he requested that parents be more inclusive when handing out party invitations.

Mr Brearey the head of Kingswood Preparatory School in Bath, wrote a letter to the parents in which he asked: “Please could you avoid bringing any party invitations into school that do not include all children in a particular class or year group. This goes completely against our policy of inclusion for every single child and is divisive and unkind.”

Reaction around the world was mixed with many saying the policy was beneficial to the children, others condemning the policy as just another example of “cotton-wooling” our kids.

It’s an expensive way of being inclusive.

And you have to wonder what it is teaching our children. What will happen when they are finally exposed to rejection? (From what I heard Rachel Smith’s party was a dud anyway.)

So back to my ever-changing guest list and my procrastination at chopping 30 sweet little faces.

I think I will just put their names into a hat.

How do you decide who to invite to your children's birthday parties?

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