30/03/2011 11:38 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Bankrupted By Birthdays: The Imperfect Parent

bankrupted by birthdays: the imperfect parent So, it's Ben's 13th birthday this weekend. Leaving aside the obvious oh-my-god-whatever-happened-to-that-cute-little-toddler freakouts, let's cut to the chase: birthdays cost a fortune.

There's the main present (a new guitar), which we're all chipping in for.

Plus some bits to open on the actual birthday. Plus a mountain-boarding (kind of like snowboarding, but on grass, with wheels) party for Ben, and assorted mates. Plus a meal, for aforementioned son and mates. Plus a Streetcar for the day, to transport said son/mates to the hill, then burger emporium.

Plus the inevitable 'Can I just have the.../Dad I need a.../Have you got a fiver for...' requests on the day.

Lordy. Good thing I'm rolling in cash! Ah. Or not. Of course, it is his birthday, and I want him to have a brilliant day. And he is changing from child to teen, which is special. And he's working really hard at school this year, so I'm happy to spoil him a little (and yes, I know I shouldn't, but don't you? Doesn't everyone?).

The thing that gets me is that kids' parties have become these huge extravaganzas now: paintballing, and zorbing, and various other extreme(ly expensive) sports parties.

When I was a lad, no-one really had parties over the age of 10 or so. Maybe a cake, some presents and a few pals round, but that was it. These days you have to remortgage the house to pay for it. And I'm not even talking about those slightly odd, misguided parents who spend 20 grand on limos and discos and horse-drawn-carriage awfulness. Incidentally, why do they do that?
Do they really think it's good for their kids in the long term?

Anyway, the party's this Sunday. I'll report back – if I haven't been forced to sell the Mac on eBay – next week...

Related links on Parentdish:

Surviving Teenagers or Why they will bankrupt you

Presents for teen boys