School is just starting up and one of the questions that’s arisen in our new first grade class already is the whole question of party invitations. If you have young children and they go to a school where the teachers consciously try to create an optimal environment, I bet you already know what I’m talking about.
The core question: if you have, say, 25 children in your kid’s class, who do you — and don’t you — invite when it’s time for their birthday party?
There are logical arguments for a number of different possible “policies” that parents can agree upon, from the idea of “boys invite all the boys, girls invite all the girls”, to “invite everyone, assume lots won’t attend” to “invite no more than one or two children from the class”.
In another setting (not sure which), I remember hearing that the optimal number of children for a party was exactly the age of the birthday child. If it’s their fourth birthday, then four kids works best, but if they’re turning twelve, well, twelve kids can be a nice circle of friends. I’m not sure I completely agree with it, though I do agree that it’s daft to have lots of kids for a second or third birthday as the wee ones just get overwhelmed.
Nonetheless, we spent an hour earlier this week in a parent meeting for first grade talking about this subject, with parents sharing a remarkable variety of perspectives, ranging from “my child can’t handle more than two or three other kids at a time” to “we love big parties and my girls expect a production and expect me to be in costume too!”
At some level I think that perhaps the key requirement is that invitations be mailed, not distributed at school, but some kids are going to be invited less than others by the very nature of social dynamics. Sure, we could shield them, but maybe it’d be better to let them ask “Mom, how come I don’t get invited to parties?” and for them to begin learning that being a bully on the playground just isn’t conducive to being popular, or being a tattletale, or … well, y’know what I mean.
Then again, that sounds awful adult and logical/rational when we’re talking about sensitive seven year olds going into first grade and still being amazed and intimidated by the world around them. It’s certainly never my intention for any child to have their feelings hurt or be upset by their environment, particularly if we parents can work together to minimize those aspects that we can control… [goodness knows, there are plenty of factors out of our control that will affect them on a daily basis too] But I don’t really want to host a birthday party for 25 7yo children, it’s totally overwhelming to even think about it, and I also don’t want to tell my son G- that he can’t invite any of the girls he likes in class either because of a “boys invite boys, girls invite girls” sort of policy.
We haven’t come to any resolution that meets everyone’s needs and will work for the various children too, so I thought I’d ask you, dear reader, to share your own experiences and thoughts on this subject.