There were clowns, carnival games, and face painted kids running around everywhere. My fifth birthday party was perhaps the most extravagant birthday party I’ll ever have. On my fifth birthday, my mom decided to throw me a birthday party to top all kids birthday parties. How proud was I of this party? Do I recall that party when I’m out with friends, or brag to strangers about my fifth birthday?
What an ungrateful little brat I am.
What are we celebrating on our kids birthdays? The only time you don’t have a birthday is when you’re dead, so are we celebrating that someone didn’t die? If that’s the case shouldn’t the parents get the party? You’re the one who made sure the stinking kid didn’t run into traffic. You made sure the kid didn’t starve to death, or drown in the pool. When he got sick did he nurse himself back to health? Hell no! That was all you. You took him to the doctor. You bought the medications. You risked your own health to make sure he got better. Parents do all the work and the kid gets the reward? This doesn’t seem fair.
Let’s face it your kid doesn’t deserve a birthday party and your kid shouldn’t have one either. Throwing a party for doing nothing is sending your kid the wrong message. You’re telling them that even if they do nothing they will still get to be “special” every now and again. When is the last time your boss threw a big celebration just for you because you did nothing. Go on. Think hard, I’ll wait.
Ok I lost my patience. It doesn’t happen in the real world. You know when they do throw big celebrations? When you succeed. Correction. When you put in the hard work and you succeed. If life made sense I would say we should celebrate hard work and failure too, but who am I to make such a claim?
I worked with a team of 30 other students to build the world’s fastest race car. That’s an experience I will never forget. It took weeks of endless work in our shop. We had near death experiences, blood, sweat, and tears. When we won that title, World’s Fastest Race Car, it became something that I would brag to everyone about. My parent’s brag about what we had done too. I talk about that race car all the time. I almost never mention that 5th birthday party.
Your kid doesn’t need to believe that if he waits around he’s going to get the party eventually. Even on the rare occasion it does happen, it never feels genuine. I played the bench my first year in peewee football. I never once considered myself to be a part of the team’s wins. I’m proud of my determination of sticking it out even when I didn’t get field time, but the team victories were never my victories.
Instead of planning out celebrations for your kid’s birthday. Look for all the other successful things your kid has done over the year and celebrate those things. What was your kid’s race car experience this past year? Did you celebrate that? Did your kid overcome some tough situation and persevere? Did you celebrate that? Show your kid that hard work is rewarded.
Even when others don’t recognize their success why wouldn’t you? Start reinforcing hard work with celebration. Your kid is smart. He’ll see that hard work is worth celebrating and he’ll start looking for the chances to push himself further.