What Mom learned from two birthday parties

My Story: Basic Training

contributed by DG

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Both of my dear children have birthdays within a few days of each other. They each wanted their own party. We hadn't had birthday parties last year, so we decided to splurge this year. I would take the youngest and her two best friends to a buffet lunch and a movie. The oldest would get five of her friends for pizza out and a movie, plus a sleepover at our house.

The younger child's celebration started as planned. I picked up the kids, we went to a buffet, and they ate desserts to their heart's content. After that, we drove to the movie. I paid for tickets and then turned around. The kids were begging for movie snacks. We had just left the restaurant 15 minutes before! I didn't need tears and tribulations, so I caved in. But I was shocked.

For the older child, we planned to go to a pizza restaurant. I thought I had learned my lesson, so I made the girls decide on toppings before we left. I told them that I'd buy four large pizzas. They negotiated for toppings, and my children gave up their favorites so that their friends would get their choice. We ordered ahead.

The pizza place worked out well. Then we came home, where I had laid out cupcakes. We had one hour until we needed to leave for the movie. No one was interested in cupcakes.

Then we left for the movie. There were nine of us. My husband paid for the tickets and then he told the girls that we'd share three large popcorns and each girl would get her own drink. You'd think he had suggested cabbage rolls from the amount of protests! One little girl said, "I want my own popcorn!" Another took her own money and bought additional treats, but only for her and her best friend. I felt like a cheapskate, but with the pizza, the movie, and the popcorn and drinks, we had already shelled out $150 that evening. I wasn't going to spend another chunk of cash for momentary desires.

The outrageous part is that their parents cave in to them all the time. By the time they're 9 to 11 years old, they are at the point where they demand their own way. And they know just how to make you feel bad for "depriving them."

Here's one final example. Our family went with a group to a mid-afternoon circus. The tickets were expensive, so I didn't plan on buying anything else. The parents of the other children, however, bought their children ice cream, light sticks, popcorn, coloring books, and even stuffed animals, all at circus vendor prices.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by mailto:MyStory@stretcher.com

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