Sunday, June 20, 2010

Negotiation (Birthday Edition)

Negotiation: Birthday Party Guests
A couple of months ago, Ada decided she only wanted one friend at her birthday party. Ada is completely in love with her friend Amelia, so it is not surprising that she'd make this declaration. And though it is a little surprising that she'd ask for a one-guest party, it is consistent with Ada's general discomfort with big social events. (One year she did not want to come out of our house for the block party, despite the fact that she'd been talking about the party nonstop for several days. It took her a good half hour to decide that the people she knew and liked individually were acceptable as a large-ish group.)

At first I was thrilled by the idea of a one-kid party. So much easier! So much less mess, organization, potential for someone to feel left out! But then Ada started getting invited to her good friends' birthdays (which somehow seem to be mostly in the spring and summer - maybe there is more to this astrology thing than I'd thought...). So, as any mother might, I started to think that we should invite Ada's other friends out of a reciprocal invitation obligation. Ada disagreed, but then I pulled out the big guns. If you only have one guest, you'll only get one present. Invite more people, and more presents follow. I kind of hated to say this, as the idea of making a birthday just about more! More! MORE! is gross, and a lot of people in our friendship circle explicitly discourage gifting for their kids' birthdays. But the argument worked, or at least Ada eventually relented and invitations were sent out to the seven kids Ada likes the best. Even better, two of them will be out of town, which brings us down to five guests. This feels completely manageable and is even more appealing because it conforms to my mother's birthday invite guideline: the number of guests = the age of the kid having the party (or maybe not equals, but is no more than the kid's age).

Negotiation: Cake 
Last year Ada decided she wanted a strawberry-raspberry-cherry cake. Ian and Mira had arrived the month before and our family energy-level for big baking projects was pretty low. Luckily Maggie sent us a recipe to use as a starting point and our good friend Stephanie make the cake for us. It was delicious (and oh-so-pink).


This year Ada asked for a unicorn cake. Thinking this meant something like this or this, I agreed. Unfortunately, Ada meant something more like this. We talked about it a bit and I tried to play up the idea of making a unicorn's horn out of sugar cone. She was taken enough with the idea that she agreed to put aside the 3D unicorn in exchange for a cake with multiple horns. In fact, Ada decided that instead of a unicorn cake she wanted an all-horn cake. We even sketched it out:

Plan for a 5th Birthday Cake

At least one horn per guest, maybe more. 

Negotiation: Presents
I asked Ada what she would like for her birthday. She thought for a moment before coming up with "a baby cradle." We talk about; I mention that she already has a doll bed. She counters that it doesn't rock. I mention that she doesn't really play with dolls a lot right now. She insists that she really wants a cradle.

We talk about it a couple more times, without any change in our respective positions. And then, after watching an episode of Angelina Ballerina, and says she would like ballet shoes and a dance dress. Green, like the character Alice wears.

"So, would you like this enough to trade the doll cradle?"

"Yes, I really want the ballet clothes."


Of course, it took me a few hours before I realized that Ada probably wanted toe shoes. I brought this up with her, saying that toe shoes are only for kids who have studied dance for years and years. She dissolved into tears. The issue was unresolved when Ada went to bed, but in searching the web for dance clothes, I realized that Alice doesn't wear toe shoes! Hopefully this will solve the problem, and the stuff I ordered will be well received.

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