By now, everyone who spends ample time online has seen the 'Most demanding 1st birthday invite ever' that went around last week after being posted on Reddit. I know I have; it was sent my way dozens of times in tweets like these:
People have come to think of STFU, Parents as a repository for the online antics of over-the-top parents, so it makes sense that they thought of the site. And for the most part, the reactions I read to the birthday email were along the lines of "eye-roll explosion x infinity" regardless of whether someone has kids or not. Across the board, thousands of people agreed that the "Most demanding 1st birthday invite ever" was just that. My takeaway was similar to my response to those "newborn visitation rules" people post on social media and send to everyone they know. Parentsplaining in its well-intentioned forms is already a major bummer, but it's especially off-putting when it surrounds something like a child's birthday wish list (or the 'wish list' the child's parents have conveniently slapped together for friends and family and possibly their entire social media networks to utilize).
But not everyone in my newsfeed appreciated the way everyone pointed and laughed at the viral birthday invite. I saw one status update that specifically condemned people for picking on parents, particularly "since most parents are just doing the best they can" (side note: I can't count how many times I've heard someone say this, and honestly, I don't think it needs to be said anymore. Just a thought.). My acquaintance's beef was also with the way the media picks on parents and rips them apart (essentially legitimizing internet "shaming"), and from a certain perspective, that accusation is true. Nothing gets people talking faster than a story about two moms arguing at a grocery store, or an email written by a mother with a birthday party piñata stick up her ass. Any version of "excessive parenting" is considered low-hanging fruit, and the media chomps on it all day long.
That said, so do parents. In fact, so do mom bloggers. Parents, more so than the media, in my opinion, are the ones who propel this inanity and keep it churning through the internet's wash cycle. Every other day (if not EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.) there's a new puff piece about "10 things you should never say to a stay-at-home-mom" or "10 things that only childless heathen bitches will say to their overtired mom friends," and those pieces are consistently read, shared, and discussed. They're crazy popular, and increasingly they've been picked up on larger platforms like Huffington Post or Yahoo!, leading to other media treating the items as real "news." When a blog post makes waves online, it could get you on TV. It could land you a book deal. You might even win a year's supply of juice pouches. So parents feel encouraged to share, and rant, and start fake controversies with banal blog posts that have salacious titles and generate millions of clicks, and they essentially supply these larger media conglomerates with sensationalist stories that get widely distributed for days, if not weeks.
The result of this is the average person being more inclined to share anything parents do that comes across as excessive. The 'Most demanding 1st birthday invite ever' wasn't the most demanding thing I've ever seen, but it is an extension of parentsplaining, and it's also a reflection of how parents expect people to feel about their kid's birthday, so of course it was shared online. It was shared because everyone has experienced that absurdity on some level. Don't tell me you don't have a sister-in-law or a coworker or a friend who hasn't treated their kid's birthday like it's the end all be all of birthdays. I won't believe you if you do. It's 2015, and parents are not shy about making their excitement and demands known. Sure, they might think they're being helpful by supplying a shopping list, but since when is that helpful? Why have traditional wedding registries -- which are associated with a one-time party usually attended by hundreds of people -- morphed into everyday birthday registries for children ? And why do parents expect their friends to care?
Don't get me wrong, I love buying gifts for my friends' children and even attending their birthday parties. But the day a mom friend tells me to provide a receipt so she can get a full refund when she returns my thoughtful gift is the day I no longer purchase gifts for her kids. I have a feeling if parents stopped giving their friends so much ammunition, we wouldn't see as many examples of Birthday Wish Lists Gone Wild floating around online. Until that day comes (and it may never come!), let's take a look at some submissions that reinforce the reason the 'Most demanding 1st birthday invite ever' was ever written in the first place. The email author's gift list specificity and odd requests aren't even that anomalous anymore.
1. A Baby's Wish List
1. This wish list is for a baby. (A baby who presumably just got a heaping crapload of stuff via a baby shower in his honor.)
2. Babies don't have wish lists. A baby's wish list consists of 'not sitting in my poop for too long' and 'eating whenever I want.'
3. The baby isn't even turning a full year old yet. What the hell?
Aiden, dude. Don't embarrass yourself like this.
2. One-Year-Old Birthday Parties Are Off The Chain
Is anyone else picturing a bunch of babies crawling / rolling around in a bounce house, being terrorized by clowns, and then napping in a tent? I understand Alicia is planning a party whose invitees might range in age, and kids like bounce houses and clowns, but this party sounds ridiculous. It's for a one-year-old. I'm surprised she didn't rent out a waterpark or a bowling alley. You know, really do it up right. I'm thinking a minimum of 100 people, but it's possible that figure is a little low.
According to the submitter, "This screenshot comes from the same gal who a few years earlier divided her potential wedding guests into the A group and the B group. Should an A-list invitee not be able to attend, some lucky asshole from the B group was pulled up from the ranks." In other words, Cynamyn's approach to gatherings is a little too spicy. Tone it down, Cynamyn. Sometimes you think you need a gallon of friends and family when you merely need a pinch.
3. Bobby's Birthday Wishes
Kimberly's message is friendly enough, but her casual -- apologetic, even -- approach to Bobby's Birthday Wishes strikes me as somewhat contrary to how the actual list reads, which is actually kind of rigid:
Something tells me this list did not end at number seven. Also, I know Kimberly is providing specifics for efficiency purposes, but do you know what my mom did to ensure that I got *exactly* what I wanted for my birthday when I had parties as a child? I'll tell you: Absolutely fucking nothing. If I got two of the same Barbie doll -- if two friends had parents who were kind enough to purchase me a Barbie doll -- my mom would exchange one for me later, or I would just keep both, or give one to a friend. Whaaaaatever. No one was skywriting 'Blair's Top 10 List Of Toys, Books, And My Little Pony Dolls' over my friends' parents' homes. My mom didn't mail my birthday party invitations with a Xeroxed copy of my very specific gift desires with stupid notes no one cares about like "she just wants a new Barbie because her brother stole the other one's head." I remember the joy of opening gifts at my birthday parties growing up, and that's ALL I remember. Kimberly, Bobby, and the Decepticons might want to give it a rest.
4. Vacation Donations
At first, this struck me as sad. L. just wants to take her daughter to Disneyland! It's so freaking expen$ive! Every little bit helps!
But then I read the submitter's email, which put me in my place with its reasoned logic. The submitter wrote, "In the grand scheme of things, this submission isn't that awful. What rankles me is that the birthday is in 2 weeks. It's not like a child's birthday is a surprise. Maybe I'm bitter because I never did anything big for my childhood birthdays, and even now if I want a fancy vacation/party like this, I have to plan ahead and save."
Hey, yeah, wait a second: I've never been to Disneyland, and I'm 32 years old! Where's my free trip?? I'm setting up a GoFundMe page just as soon as I'm done writing this column so I can raise the funds for this trip. My birthday is on April 30th and yes, I will accept a flight upgrade. And champagne. One glass for every year of my life on earth! I'm going to be 396 months old, bitches! Gimme my teacup ride!!!
5. Mom's Gold Star
Can I get a slow clap for Tammy? I didn't even know what a "Dutch Bros. Kicker" was, but I was and am fully supportive of everything on this list. I sure wish other parents would get on this birthday post tip, because it's way more entertaining than posts that sincerely outline which Lego set or Disney movie to purchase. Did I mention that Trent is turning two? He's gonna have one hell of a birthday.