ShareThis Page
News Columnists

The march of infant parties goes on despite baby's oblivion

| Monday, Jan. 9, 2006

I made a vain attempt to get together with two married couples in my Rolodex this weekend, but to no avail. Both couples were busy with a ritual that dominates the social calendars of families from one end of Pittsburgh to the other.

I'm talking about the infant birthday party, a celebration virtually unheard of a decade ago that's suddenly become as familiar as regurgitated peas on a new mother's shoulder.

And all this premature celebrating begs one burning question: why are otherwise rational adults spending money, hiring caterers and shopping for new tablecloths for an event honoring a guest who's too young to know the difference between a tablecloth and the well-gummed end of a security blanket?

I'm certain our generation's parents threw birthday parties for us during the 1960s and '70s, but they generally waited until we were 5, 6 or maybe even older to start pinning the tail on the donkey. I'd like to imagine my brain is dense with fond memories of these early social gatherings, but if you're like most stressed-out, overworked adults, events -- including childhood birthday parties -- that took place before the age of 10 are often blurrier than a 40-year-old Polaroid.

But just because a kid hasn't given up drooling or biting their own feet hasn't stopped the determined march of infant parties. One of the many cloying, treacly Internet sites devoted to the subject suggests "making or buying a creative cake. Your baby will love looking at the cake as much as eating it," the piece reads. Well, they may enjoy looking at food, or tossing it at grandma, or mashing their face, hair and clothes into the icing.

There's also tips on taking photos of the infant and the birthday cake well before the guests arrive, which is wise considering how the kid may be sacked out from exhaustion or crying after staring into camera flashes all day. Other sites list suitable "entertainment" for the little tax deductions, including clowns, balloon sculptors and life-sized cartoon characters.

But parents who insist on arranging lavish entertainment might want to take a page from that other useless observance of married life, the bachelor party. Any man who's organized a few stag nights knows that the strippers must be hired early on in the festivities. Otherwise, the wasted, bleary-eyed groom-to-be will never remember what happened that night, reliving it only through the cloudy memories of friends.

Just like a baby's first birthday party.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me