What I want to know is, when did we all get so competitive? When did doing something nice for your children become outdoing someone else?
My niece was invited to a birthday party. When they got to the Birthday Girl's house, they found a team of beauticians waiting. All the girls had manicures, full make-up and a re-style. Then, they were escorted to a waiting limousine, whisked off for a tour of the local highlights and delivered to a very smart restaurant where the waiters all scurried to do the bidding of the charming feminine party, wafting linen napkins, adjusting chairs, proffering crystal glasses of bubbly, and tempting them with the menu chef had prepared especially for them. Then they went on to a club, where there was dancing and laughter, and much merriment by all. The girls enjoyed it all immensely, and were lucky to fall back into their limousines to be delivered to their own doors after the party, just in time for Blues Clues. For this wasn't a prom, or a teenage treat. These were girls still in Primary or Nursery school!
The very same day, Thing Two had been invited to a birthday party. When they got to the Birthday Girl's house, they found the parents waiting, balloons and banners waving. They played pin the tail on the donkey, and Thing Two won the pass the parcel, and they giggled, and bounced and ate jelly and came home. Thing Two and niece are the same age, and Thing Two is GREEN at hearing about her cousins's experience, but I know which one I am more comfortable with.
This competitive spark seems to be in everything now. Thing One gave her friend a copy of the latest special must-have book in a series for a birthday - guess what was in the returning party bag? TWO books from the series... Since when are party bags more than a plastic toy and a slice of cake? Now they are a military operation, with a selection of edible, novelty and other expensive tat, that you line up in piles on the dining room table and go along filling bags like a factory line.
You send in a small sweet for each child in the class on your child's birthday. Someone else bakes an array of cupcakes on their child's birthday, each individually iced with a child's name and favourite colour (I barely know Thing One's fave colour, I certainly have no time to research every child in the class!). The next time there is a birthday, the mother hires a clown to stand outside school handing out balloons as the children leave. It's madness, I tell you.
I don't know who started this one-upmanship, but it needs to stop. If for no other reason that Thing One just turned eleven and I can't afford this anymore!
BTW, for those of you following The Babe - she has been entertaining herself while I type this by bringing me plastic stacking rings which I toss, then she races off to get and brings them back in her mouth... which I toss and she races off to get... in other words, I am playing "fetch" with my toddler. Again, even Freud wouldn't comment on this.