The Mother Lode: Jumping into the fray with a slew of birthday parties

March 8, 2018 GMT

OK, so we need to talk about the birthday parties. What is going on? Or more to the point, what was going on nine months ago several years back? Apparently, every child we know was born round about now. We have never been to so many birthday parties.

“What are we doing this weekend, Mom?” my kids ask.

I can’t answer because I am wrapping 20 gifts at once, hopefully getting the ages and names right.

Last week I managed to give a 7-year-old boy a pair of emoji leggings. I realized this when I found myself wrapping a Ninjago Lego headlamp for a 10-year-old girl.

And you should see our Outlook calendar. The complicated web of start and stop times for the onslaught of parties requires more than Singapore Math to keep it all straight.

Before I kvetch too much, I am one of the guilty parties here: My two boys have March birthdays just five days apart. When they were younger, I would double down and throw both parties simultaneously in our home. But since they are three years apart, the result was Sesame Street meets Animal House. Soon it become clear that everyone was too old for that, including my husband and me.


So this year we are all about the venue party. Apparently everyone else is, too. Never in my life have we owned so many pairs of trampoline park socks. You know the ones: They are doled out upon entry to trampoline party zones as required footwear.

“Just wear them to school,” I told my daughter, when she complained they were all she could find in her sock drawer.

“Mom, they are neon, have plastic tread on the bottom, and do not match my leggings,” she responded, aghast at the horror.

This year, we are hosting my son’s 7th birthday at Get Air. After I sent the invitations, I realized we had four other similar parties to attend before his party rolls around. Sky Zone, Rockin’ Jump, Pump it Up, Get Air. If you need to know the nearest coffee shop for any of these venues, you’ve got your lady. I mainline espresso shots to calm down during these parties.

I was at Sky Zone last weekend, and at one point suddenly realized I was at the wrong party. Both parties had tons of Greenwich parents and kids so I was completely confused. It was like the whole town was there, even our pediatric dentist.

“I need to get back to the right party,” I told a friend in a panic.

The kids just love these places. It’s as if you have entered an alternate state of reality where everyone just … well … jumps.

“I don’t think I can do that,” I said to another bystander as we watched a full-grown man jump on the trampoline.

“The only reason that man is jumping is because he works here or he has marital problems,” she informed me. “Or both.”

“No, I mean I literally could not do that. I had three kids in four years and …” but she had already started to walk away. No one wants to go there.


A few weeks ago, we attended a birthday party in Norwalk that somehow combined bowling, an arcade and laser tag in two hours.

“Come on in, we are on a tight schedule here,” the host father explained as he ushered us in.

Bowling required bowling shoes for everyone. By the time we were done lacing up, the cake was being served, followed swiftly by the game arcade, which felt like some kind of juvenile Las Vegas. Watching my 6-year-old son slam his hand repeatedly against a large red button wasn’t pretty. I had never seen this machine before yet he seemed to know exactly what he was doing.

“How do they know how to do that?” I asked a friend.

“Brute instinct,” she replied.

When we hit laser tag, several parents were required to join in as chaperones. It seemed to be a dad thing so I stood down. But when I went looking for my children at the end of the session, one of the dads jumped out from behind a shelter and zapped me with the laser gun, screaming “In the bag!” He seemed to think it hilarious. I did not.

And there you have it: March Madness is upon us in the form of Birthday Party overload. Get your game on — or failing that, Get Air. And if it appears the parents are not having fun, remember this: Several years and nine months ago, in a galaxy far, far away, some of these very same adults were having a whole lot of fun.

Payback time.

Claire Tisne Haft is a former publishing and film executive, raising her family in Greenwich while working on a freelance basis on books and films.