Classic Thag, February 2011: You Are Cordially Invited to Attend Reality
Dear parents of my six-year-old’s classmates:
Thank you for including my son in your child’s after-school birthday party. Aside from the obvious generosity involved in putting together such an event, the party provides a number of social and educational services that only became clear to me after the fact. I would like to share with you my appreciation of each one, first and foremost the junk food.
My wife and I attempt to restrict our children’s intake of sugary, greasy or only marginally nutritious snacks. We try to instill in them a like for green vegetables, for fruits, and for a variety of protein-rich foods such as fish, chicken and meat. This contrasts sharply with your philosophy, as demonstrated by your complete reliance, for the occasion, upon candy, potato chips, pretzels, buttered popcorn, cake, cookies and more candy.
I had anticipated, perhaps ignorantly, that a party for two dozen or so first-graders at dinnertime might include something vaguely resembling dinner. Granted, preparing dinner for two dozen first-graders can prove quite a daunting task; I did not expect anyone to take upon himself such an endeavor. However, I note the existence of at least four pizza parlors within a six-block radius of your home, all of which offer free delivery. Pizza is not the optimal dinner every single day, but its just-above-marginal nutritional value nevertheless renders it superior to candy, cake, cookies, and greasy snacks. I rather doubt these pizza places would have survived this long without the patronage of local families such as yours; I thus find your sudden reluctance to engage their services original, to say the least.
I do recall that in my youth, birthday parties in my area tended to feature pizza from a particular place followed by ice cream from a different particular place. They usually happened at the same skating venue. Now, I do understand that you prefer to conduct your party at home, and that skating venue is both six thousand miles away and probably defunct. Nevertheless, the experience of my youth conditioned me to expect some sort of party activity to accompany, or at least alternate with, the food. In your case, this activity seemed to consist of watching TV shows or movies of questionable merit, with occasional individual forays into the kitchen to ingest more candy, cookies, cake and greasy snacks. I applaud your bold disregard for stodgy, “mainstream” pediatric guidance.
This innovative, hands-off approach to kid partying offers the obvious advantage of leaving the parents free to engage in other activities; clearly, you seized this opportunity to pour even more effort in to party-related pursuits, such as opening and serving more snack foods. I stand in awe of your efficient ways.
My son had an advantage over most of the other children, in that he arrived a good bit before the other guests, and benefited from more individual adult attention. He informs me that this attention consisted of sitting him in front of the TV and serving him a sandwich with chocolate spread. Thus, in addition to the junk food he would receive a little later with the rest of the pack, my son also got to consume one additional portion of yet another permutation of grease, sugar and empty calories. Thank you for singling him out for such special treatment.
His early arrival time, as well, contained a lesson for us. While I had always been under the impression that the time listed on an invitation represents the time the event will start, you disabused me of that notion – when my son arrived, the preparations were nowhere near complete, which highlights yet another benefit of your robust sit-them-in-front-of-the-TV policy. I note that most of the other parents displayed keen awareness of this etiquette quirk, as they did not begin bringing their children until about twenty minutes later, judging by my son’s description.
The cumulative effect of your child’s birthday party, I must say, brought out a side of my child’s personality that I rarely, if ever, get to see: when his body, vocal cords and mouth work faster than his brain, as a result of significantly increased blood sugar. He was so excited about the party, he could not focus on getting in pajamas for a full twenty minutes after getting home, and then did not fall asleep until well after his usual bedtime despite continual encouragement. Thank you for enabling me to experience this phenomenon once again. I really do not get to do that frequently enough.
This has been an edifying, educational experience. Words cannot convey how I anticipate the effect of your child-rearing on my son for years to come.
Please Like Mightier than the Pen on Facebook, or you’ll be invited to the next party.