so, i've been toying with the idea of throwing the munchkin a birthday party in a few weeks. to date, he hasn't had a "real" party. he's had some birthday dinners, but what does that really mean to a 2 year old? my argument has always been that he would never remember a party & it would mean absolutely nothing to him anyway, but apparently, those around me are looking at me like i'm depriving my child of some sort of right of passage.
as i sit here and search for a site (Chuck E. Cheese?) for a party, the sheer amount of money people spend on these celebrations is sort of daunting. first, the venue. i don't have the luxury of a backyard, so having it at home is out. there's Chuck E. Cheese, which is fairly cheap if you have the party during the week, and a bit more expensive on the weekends. then you have your specialty places such as The Little Gym or Kid's Concept which is asking approximately $500 for the venue and a "party attendant," which just sounds absurd to me. and finally, there's the park, which is my personal favorite, but seeing as the kid's birthday is close to the end of October, the weather can be a bit dicey. i'm on the verge of just buying him another FABULOUS birthday cake & calling it a day.
all this talk about paying for a venue, and party favors, and a gift brings me back to the cost of raising a child on your own. because i like facts, i googled it and i found this:
(click to enlarge)
according to msn money's central, it will cost me approximately $250,000 to raise my son (which doesn't include the cost of college). when i think about that amount my mind is blown. it's so hard for me to wrap my mind around the money it takes to provide for my son, and going at it alone is even more stressful. i don't want him to miss out on anything simply because we are all we got (for right now), but i can't spend carelessly on gifts and parties either.
i was listening to This American Life the other day and they profiled Geoffery Canada and his project, The Harlem Children Zone. a friend of mind used to work there, and i was really intrigued and inspired by their work. Mr. Canada's mission is to provide education to the kids of Harlem from birth through college in the hopes that focusing on the child (not the parent) will help raise kids out of the cycle of poverty. listening to the broadcast solidified in my mind that no matter how much money you make, what matters is how much time and energy you invest on the things that actually count. reading to your child, letting him explore his world, tempering discipline, all of these things will mean more in the long run than how fabulous his 3rd birthday party was.