Last night we had L’s fourth birthday party. And by that I don’t mean that she turned four, she turned three (a week and a half ago). We had four parties for her. Here’s what you need to understand about the logic – or perhaps lack of logic but still sanity saving method: . Both sets of grandparents want the undivided attention of their grandchildren and us. If they just wanted to passive-aggressively fight over who our girls dote on more, that would be fine, but they just can’t leave Mark and I be. The ones that can’t cook want to help in the kitchen. The extroverts try to bond with the introverts. And rather than vying for proof that their grandchildren love them; they tend to try to prove that they know us the best. It’s exhausting. Not to mention, the uncanny ability they have to make our house seem small and our food seem like crap. Ask anyone who’s visited our house if we know how to throw a good party, cook and serve a good meal, pour a good drink, or be a gracious hosting couple. The answer will be “absolutely.” As long as the person you are asking isn’t related to us. All bets are off then.
So after three horrifying Christmas Eve dinners, one Christmas “drop-in” and two shockingly worse Baptisms, we’ve called it quits on the dual family get togethers. And from the beginning we’ve done this with the girls’ birthdays. So, L had a lasagne dinner with chocolate cake the Friday before her birthday with Mark’s parents and his son where his dad walked in with his humourous defensive persona (not sure who is supposed to find it funny when he says things like “oops, can’t touch your hair right V” and “oh, i guess you didn’t really want to get me that glass of wine”) and his mom asking Mark if he’d heard about so-and-so’s cousin’s wife’s dad dying and how was she supposed to know they had were driving their grandson back to Toronto for us.
Then L had a casual drop-in the Sunday before her birthday where my parents and sisters showed up, over-stimulated her, hassled sleeping baby C waking her up in waves thinking it was hilarious (um, no, not really) and my mother doing that weird child-like defensive thing where she “blames” everybody else for things a la “Mama said you can’t have that, not me. I would let you run with scissors .” Just confirming this date had been hell with my Dad’s response being “Uh sure, Sunday after church might work, we’ll see.” No! No, we’ll see! Either you are coming, or you aren’t.
Now, imagine trying to combine all of those quirks, schedule conflicts, and presents ("Oh, nana got you that. But I got you this." "Oh that was nice of grandma to get you that, I can make you another one just like it!") into one small space. Not.Going.To. Happen.
Of course, we had our own little supper complete with the requested purple robot cake, on her actual birthday.
And last night, we had two of our couple friends over with their children. We brought in the reinforcements: seven bottles of wine for the six of us. All of the kids had a blast and the grown-ups did too. We made gourmet grilled cheese (gruyere on potato-rosemary break with homemade braised spare ribs) and had the “head” of the robot cake that I had remembered to take out of the freezer. L had spent the afternoon setting the table, washing berries, and then getting dressed up in a puffy party dress that drowned her petite-ness but with a smile as big as her heart!
Next month is R’s birthday and we’re really hoping to whittle down the number of get togethers but we just don’t think we can cope with a dual family shindig. There really isn’t enough wine in the city to make that bearable.
Do your two sides of the family get along? How many birthday parties/gatherings do you do for your kids? (And how much wine is involved?!)