So I picked up some free ‘mama’ mags today… It seems things have changed A LOT since we were kids…
- THEN: board games, Lego, ball, bicycle. An intimate and close connection with the experience of concrete and gravel burn (I did grow up in HK after all).
- NOW: age-appropriate educational, non-choke-hazard, non-toxic-paint toys that are ORGANIC and are made of indigenous fibres, the growth and sale of which have helped a poor Puerto Rican farmer feed his family of 15. An environment that is conducive to learning, with ‘warm light’ and protectors on all furniture edges. Even though you’re already in high school.
- THEN: straight after school, still in our school uniforms. Invites by walking up to the kid and saying “Hey, wanna come to my party?” Cake baked by Mum (thanks Mum!) usually courtesy of The Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book. Pass-the-Parcel (wrapped in newspaper, in hindsight not such a great idea). Musical chairs. Home-made sandwiches. Music from a tape in the stereo (oh yeah, the very same that used to warp in the heat of your car glove box). Going-home presents were sweets in a bag. Photos taken on the family 35mm camera with print outs distributed some weeks later (if at all).
- NOW: must be ‘styled’ and ‘themed’ with specialised invitations and decorations, and an iPad mini for each child’s going home present. NEVER attempt to hold a party yourself – you MUST hire a ‘professional’ party planner. You MUST consider a party package – eg. Eco-friendly magical ‘spaces’ where kids can ‘find themselves’, water theme park parties (nothing like a near-drowning experience to add some excitement), and ‘dangerous animal’ parties (because what is childhood without early exposure to rabies and tetanus). Cakes MUST be made by a professional, must look plastic, and have so many moving parks that they present an reasonable choke hazard. Food must be sugar-free, gluten-free, nut-free, egg-free and most importantly, taste-free. The prize at the end of Pass-the-Parcel is an EpiPen. “Beautification” parties with ‘age-appropriate’ make up – although honestly if you need to label makeup as ‘age-appropriate’ I suspect it’s a disclaimer for making your baby girl look like a child prostitute. Guidelines on HOW MUCH to spend on presents: “unfamiliar classmate $30”: aside from the fact that you’re going to a party of someone you don’t know, you’re going to spend $30 on them… WTF? “Familiar classmate/ Good friend $65”: I know ADULTS who don’t spend that much on a gift. Photos are taken by a professional photographer, carefully staged so that they are planned yet look unplanned, and prints are arranged if you pay a ridiculous amount of money and donate a kidney. Oh, and the photographer can use any and all of your prints in their own promotional material. Pimp that kid out.
- THEN: Kindergarten. Primary school. After school it was study and sport.
- NOW: a reputable qualified ‘specialist in early learning’ centre so that your kid can discuss the finer points of Shakespeare by the age of 6 months (otherwise they’re clearly retarded and need consultation with a paediatric neuro-linguistic-psych-development expert). To get into kindergarten must be able to show evidence of MENSA membership. Pre- and post-kindy tutoring with educational-based mind-expanding content (and I don’t mean LSD, although surely some of their parents must be on it). Parent takes stock of how much they’ve spent – has a nervous breakdown – works through the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle – then starts preparing the kid for primary school.
- THEN: whatever was spoken at home.
- NOW: extensive exotic language tutoring because your children will (and I quote): be more creative, have more friends, and have a better job later in life. Now we know what happened to Nigel, not enough languages.
Surprisingly, I don’t feel inadequate as a parent after reading these mags.
I feel as parents that we are normal, and everyone else is on Class A drugs.