Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Kids Parties

I hate to sound like an old grandmother (which I find I am doing increasingly these days) but when I was a kid, our parties had a different flavour to them than what you see today. We met, we played hide and seek, we ran around, we chatted, we drank stuff like orange squash and ate cake and potato chips. Occasionally when an adult got it into his head to organise games for us we found ourselves playing "pin the donkey’s tail" or taking part in a lemon and spoon race. By seven o’clock our mothers and fathers or ayahs would turn up to take us home and off we would go, after screeching out prolongued “Bye’s” and clutching a balloon or a packet of sweets in our hands.

Well a couple of days back, this four or five year old kid’s party was celebrated with a bang (literally!) in the garden downstairs. It was one of those stage managed affairs. A hu…uu…uuuu …ge blue plastic playpen was set up at one end of the lawn with green plastic palm trees at the corners and a huge wobbly plastic clown in the centre with steps on the sides and ropes hanging down for kids to practise their rappelling skills. There was a fire-eater, a young DJ who kept making silly jokes and various games which had the kids run to and fro all over the lawn. All of which might have been okay if it hadn't been for the music.

Two huge loudspeakers blared out thousands of watts of noise to crack your ear drums. The DJ kept up a running commntary on the mike and a woman in a light green trouser suit (the manager of the event?) busily attended to the details. The party must have cost a bomb. As I watched it all from our balcony on the first floor, I wondered what it must be like to be a kid these days, in Bombay, being fattened on this kind of wealth. Also, what it must be like to not be rich and to attend these kind of parties and then throw a tantrum at home because you wanted the same kind of party on your birthday and your parents couldn't afford it. I wonder what it must be like to be parents these days at all. So dependent on money and artificiality to prove your love for your kid. I am just glad to have grown up in the days that I did.

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Stardust1954 said...

I too am glad I grew up in a more simpler time. My parties consisted of ice cream and cake and a few friends to come and share in games and playtime. Gifts were things like a rubber ball, a pack of baseball cards for boys and a package of barrettes, a book of paper dolls for girls and we were happy with those things.

Then when my kids (who are now in their 20s) were young, their friends invited them to pizza parties at Chuck E Cheese's, McDonald's and other eateries. (I was a mean mom and didn't do parties like that.) Things like action figures, "Transformer" toys, Barbie dolls and clothes were exptected as gifts from other children!

Now we have the "blow up playpens" as you described, and a whole "circus" is set up in backyards across America, complete with MCs to entertain and keep the party lively, and music blasts everywhere and I don't even want to know what other children bring as gifts today!

umarang said...

Sad commentary on our lives and relationships isn't it? Isn't it amazing how much similarity there is between how things are done in the U.S. and the way they'e done here, in India!

Stardust1954 said...

I write to many people around the world and find that this is a universal thing...growing materialism. Some say it is the globalization brought about by the capitalistic ways of the USA and yes, US businesses are right up front for the cause of the growing greed problem. I think it would do well for parents to start saying no to these things and get back to basics...simplify. It's why more and more people are in psychotherapy because all of these material things are not bringing true happiness and contentment.