Beginning when my older daughter was in preschool, I hosted small birthday parties for my kids–their age plus one. Only a few friends were invited from playgroups, preschool, and church. Small, family focused birthday parties are a priority for our family, which goes against the trend in our geographic area for large parties at gymnastic centers or bounces warehouses. I often had conversations with my kids about birthday talk at school, asking them to not discuss anyone’s birthday outside of home so as not to hurt feelings of kids not invited.
Now my twin boys are in kindergarten and we have to revisit the birthday talk rules with a new twist–when one boy is excited to be invited to a classmate’s party and the other boy (who is in a different class) is not invited. While this same situation did happen in preschool, it did not seem to bother either of them as much. They were in a different place developmentally and currently this is a huge deal. The one invited is so excited and wants to chat about the plans. The one not invited feels left out and does not want to hear about the party (understandably). Fighting ensues.
My husband and I always offer the child(ren) not invited to a birthday party an exciting alternative activity, such as a play date with a friend not seen in a while or a trip to get ice cream with daddy. Still, there are hurt feelings. I found myself repeating, “no birthday talk!” over and over to the invited twin, comforting the other twin and repeatedly reading Rosemary Well’s fabulous book: The Secret Birthday which is all about keeping a birthday party secret so as not to hurt feelings. My kids do not want to hurt their friend’s feelings nor have their feelings hurt. This is a hard but important lesson to learn. I feel that I deal with hurt feelings on a daily basis with my kids–a mixture of their developmental ages of 9, 5, and 5 and their super-sensitive personalities. I haven’t found the right way to deal with the birthday situation, and am dreading planning a party for my twins in a few weeks, when we will have to start these discussions all over again.
How do you handle birthday talk with your school-aged twins?
Leslie H. is a freelance writer, part-time nursery school teacher and parent to three amazing kids ages 9, 5, and 5.