We threw a party at The Little Gym for our girls’ 4th birthday last week. An intimate group of 22 3- and 4-year-olds included new friends from our daughters’ current preschool and old friends from last year’s preschool…with a few other friends thrown in for good measure. Oh how excited the girls had been for the last few weeks. They just couldn’t wait!
Though we threw a similar party last year, there were some major changes in a lot of ways. And this was primarily because it was the girls’ 4th year birthday party. Instead of inviting our friends (that is, friends of me and my husband), we decided to invite our twins’ friends instead. It was a subtle yet enlightening mental change for us parents who, for the first 3 years of our kids’ lives, had used our children’s birthday as a reason to throw a big party to invite some family friends over to catch up…oh, and celebrate their birthdays.
Another big change was that this year’s invitation list was created by L and K. OK, so I wrote it down. But it was up to them on whom to invite. After the initial creation of the guest list, I went over the list with them several times. I just wanted to make sure they were the kids they wanted at their party not just names of kids they remember from their classroom.
And my goodness, what a party! We had done the same thing last year when they turned 3 (albeit with children of friends of ours) and wondered whether it was really worth it. I mean, it was fun and certainly the children had a great time running around everywhere and playing on the equipment. But several kids did not listen to the instructor or follow any of the games she led. This year, every single child followed the leader, joined in the games, and played on the equipment when instructed to do so. It was night and day from last year. A completely different event. It was an energetic, organized spectacle of kids running, jumping, and crawling in unison. We parents were highly entertained by all the laughing and screaming that filled the gym.
Though I vaguely have plans for next year’s big day to be a much smaller event, I’m tempted to do this all again. Just watching the children’s excitement makes it all worth it…we’ll just have to see.