A couple of weeks ago it became apparent to me that a friend of mine was harbouring a mini-grudge about the fact I hadn't invited him and his family to any of my three-year-old's birthday parties.
He was appalled to discover that she hasn't actually had one. Ever. And neither has her sister (18 months).
Instead, on my daughter Clem's third birthday last week, we woke early, dragged her out of bed so we could give her her present (a basket - she loves Wizard of Oz, ok?) and take her out for a celebratory croissant at the local bakery.
It was her, her sister, her dogs and her parents, just how she likes it. We asked her what she wanted to do with the rest of the day and she decided she would like to go for a picnic and then watch a film (the Wizard of Oz, of course).
Isn't this how birthdays are supposed to be?
And also makes me wonder what it's actually all for. My daughter would hate the idea of all those people being in her house. She'd get overwhelmed and tired and then all of us would suffer.
Apparently this makes me a TERRIBLE mother.
Some friends have suggested that we will regret not 'marking' these special times with a huge party. While out for our picnic we bumped into a friend of ours who asked when Clem's party was, or whether we were just going to have a small one with family and friends?
When we replied that this WAS her party, she looked pityingly at our child, who was happily stuffing cherries into her face, oblivious to the fact that she was so badly done by.
Last year, when she was two and her sister was not yet walking, we all went for a curry in Bradford. And they loved it.
Yet, when I speak to friends who have had lavish parties, the response is always the same: "Oh yes, little Jasper and Jemima are ALWAYS sick on their birthdays. It's awful. Last year we had to hire a hall for 150 pre-schoolers and it cost £1000. I had to have a three days off work to recover and the children had allergic reactions to all the sweets and cried for a whole week afterwards."
I have attended one-year-olds' birthday parties, where the child sits in the middle of the room, bewildered and surrounded by largely unwanted presents as its sibling runs around, stressed and jealous, wondering why all these bored adults are there.
I have been that bored adult, wondering why I am spending a Saturday afternoon eating inferior food (because baby birthday party food apparently MUST contain at least 70Slideshow-84666%