I have zero kids and I think that’s great. I have friends and family who suddenly have a lot more than zero kids and that’s great, too; until little Zaiden and Delilah’s birthdays roll around and I receive the dreaded obligation kid party invitation in the mail. The envelope is enough to send me into a cold sweat. I can’t bail on going (because friends and family) but the thought of a Saturday confined to a backyard -or worse, confined in an actual enclosed child amusement venue- full of wild hoards of poorly behaved, sugared-up kids, banal small talk with their parents, AND be expected to bring a gift, is a personal hell.
I’d like to share five ways for any adult (both parents and the children-free alike) to cope at the obligatory child birthday party. Stay tuned. This is a game changer.
1. Think of kids as tiny, pushy drunks. Their meltdowns are not so different from those of adult drunks. Both have limited perspectives. Both want to listen to the same song on repeat over and over again. Both have the ability to turn on a dime into hot messes without provocation. I know I would want people to be kind to me if I were drunk (and find me snacks and speak slowly). Approach the whole event with kindness and a patient attitude and you won’t be so resentful about being there.
2. That being said… bring booze to share. Friends don’t let friends attend children’s parties without drinks. If it seems appropriate, do everyone a favor and bring wine or beer. The other adults will appreciate the gesture. Obviously, the point is to take the edge off the mayhem, not to achieve the new high score in drinking. Doing shots or getting trashed at a toddler’s birthday party is totally inappropriate (but then again, you might never get asked back for another party).
3. Limit your radiation exposure. Congratulations if you don’t have a kid to keep an eye on at this party. That’s a major perk in this situation. Go talk to some adults away from ground zero for a bit. You don’t have to be right in the middle of the action the whole time. If you do have a child, tag team with a partner or another parent at the party. After all, every adult deserves a breather.
4. If you can’t beat them, join them. You might be surprised how much fun it is to get down on the floor and play Godzilla at the stuffed animal tea party. If you’re the one causing all the running and joyful screaming, you might not mind the chaos so much.
5. Familiarize yourself with the exit rows. At a party without an ending time, make sure you formulate an escape plan. Introverts know this one well. Decide when you want to leave and stick to the plan. Don’t forget to say goodbye.