Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pin The Tail On The What?

The best thing about having a Jonas Brothers Birthday Cake at your daughter’s 7-year-old Birthday Party, is you get to get their fucking heads off at the end.

My oldest munchkin turned 7 this past weekend. Hard to believe. It seems like just yesterday, we bought her an ipod. I get all teary-eyed just thinking about it. As my wife and I sift through the rubble of the Party aftermath, I found myself doing what any nut less Father would do after being sucked dry of $500 in less than a two hour period; I started to reflect.

When you become a parent, it’s hard not to compare your childhood experiences with those of your kids. For better or for worse, it’s simply natural to draw comparisons. Sometimes looking back on my childhood gets me angry and sometimes it makes me smile but either way, it gives me pause.

Growing up wasn’t always a walk in the park for me. My parents were divorced and my Mom was always trying to do her best to keep us up with the Joneses; or in our neighborhood, the Schwartz’s. She did what she could to make us feel like we had everything our friends had but it wasn’t always possible. Looking back on it now, I can’t imagine how tough it must have been on her when my brother and I would give her shit for not having cable TV, the latest Commodore 64 or the Boom Box with the double tape deck. Only now do I understand what an asshole I must have sounded like.

When I think about those days, I now realize two things:

1) Because of my modest upbringing, in a fairly affluent neighborhood, I learned hard lessons of humility at an early age.

2) There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t need a haircut.

No matter what the season or occasion, when you see pictures of me as a kid, you can bet your bottom dollar, that I was wearing a flannel shirt and I had that stupid fucking cowlick in the front of my bowl haircut. It’s a wonder I wasn’t beat up more often.

One of the things that was particularly devastating to me growing up, were my Birthday parties. My poor Mother must have had panic attacks every year, when my Birthday rolled around. The kids in my hood had crazy ass parties. Whether it was a party at a Disco Tec or an impromptu romp around a makeshift arcade in someone’s furnished basement, it was always a production. The problem was, everyone else’s production was like a god damn Steven Spielberg Film and mine were basically the equivalent of a one camera Porn flick, shot in the back of a warehouse. It was brutal.

Most of their parties would consist of kids beating the snot out of a rented Wack-A-Mole machine, waving glow sticks (in the air, like they just don’t care) and Moshe the Clown walking around with a sketch pad, drawing impromptu caricatures of you in a fucking Director’s Chair or some shit like that. How is that same crowd supposed to get excited about coming to my house, to play Pin The Tail on the poor kid's Donkey in my living room? These kids were all jacked up on the Star Wars cake and now they have to wrap up the weekend with a slither of Fudgie the Whale? I had very little street cred back then.

I survived. I’m probably stronger because of it. I have character and a good work ethic. I am humble.

Fast forward almost thirty years later and here I am, stroking the huge schlong of the gluttonous beast that growled in my face all those years ago. I have allowed myself to cave in to the pressure. I have taken the valuable lessons taught to me in my youth and turned a blind eye on my past. I have become the Schwartz’s.

It’s hard to deny your kid the opportunity to have a memorable day on their Birthday. Everyone wants their children to have what they didn’t have. But is it really necessary to go to such great lengths to ensure a smile? Do we really need 15 Ft inflatable castles and standing jumpers larger than one-bedroom apartments? Is it prudent to chauffeur our little girls to miniature salons and dress them up like midget hookers? Does a Birthday cake taste any sweeter to a child when it’s $250 as opposed to $25?

I’m starting to think it’s all a load of crap. I’m starting to have a change of heart. I want to find the Joneses, ring their doorbell and leave a flaming bag of shit, on their doorstep. It’s time to teach my kids that you don’t find happiness in the panties of an American Girl Doll. It’s time to teach my kids that fun is what you make it. It’s time to thank my Mom for doing the right thing, even if it wasn’t the “IN” thing.

Maybe being Out-Numbered wasn't such a bad thing after all…

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