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10 Hard Truths About Kids’ Birthday Parties

I don't know about you, but my kindergartener has a packed social schedule, with nearly every other Saturday marked off for a birthday party. He's even been double booked, ducking out of one party to make an appearance at another. The kid knows a thing or two about goodie-bag swag, is what I'm saying.

I suppose a kid can only take so many birthday songs sung for other kids, so many gifts bought for someone else, before demanding some reciprocity. So the last few weeks have been spent planning/stressing/hosting a gaggle of children under a canopy of loose balloons and hushed awkwardness. It's a reminder of why birthday parties are only fun for the kids, and sometimes not even. There are hurt feelings and sugar crashes, maybe even a physical altercation over who was playing with what first.

And yet we continue to do it, weekend after next, for the joyful celebration and happy memories (just kidding, we do it for the birthday cake). We're all thinking the same things, though.

RELATED: How to Throw a Birthday Party (Without Getting Arrested)

Let's at least be clear on the hard truths:

1. No parent wants to go, and no parent wants you to come.

It's not personal. You seem perfectly lovely at school pick-up, and given a more comfortable atmosphere (somewhere without a head-splitting noise volume, and a few less hollers for "MOMMY") maybe we could have a real conversation. But birthday parties are awkward, across the board. After huddling together with parents we barely know, making chitchat, silently pleading that our kid isn't the one who collapses into a sugar-induced heap of tears or punches someone in the throat, we all leave grateful that it's over, host and guests alike. Especially for the socially awkward amongst us, birthday parties are something to endure.

2. Half the guest list will RSVP the night before.

When it comes to kids' birthday parties, RSVP basically means nothing. Accept it.

And then profusely apologize, as if they were the only one. A handful won't respond at all, as if we won't prepare a goodie bag and account for pizza just in case you phone in a last-minute response. At least one will cancel the day of, happens every time. When it comes to kids' birthday parties, RSVP basically means nothing. Accept it.

3. Siblings will come. Prepare for it.

Don't act surprised when a car unloads with four kids under 5, even though you only invited the one. Don't you dare mentally count the pizza slices and goodie bags in your head; you were waiting for this moment. You've got this.

4. The activities you have planned actually suck.

Musical chairs sounds fun until the first losing kid erupts into tears, elbowing kids off their seats. Scavenger hunts seem easy, until one older sibling goes on a prize-finding bender and refuses to share his winnings. If you can make it through two hours without saying, THAT'S IT, EVERYONE IN A CIRCLE AND SIT ON YOUR HANDS, then congratulations. Success.

5. Pinterest is for parents, not kids.

No kid cares about the themed food, Pinterest-inspired tablescape or décor. All of those printable tags and DIY touches? Just admit it, that's for the camera (or maybe for other moms), not the kids. Kids want three things: sugar, loose balloons and space to run mad. Call it a day, folks. Let's not overthink things.

6. Piñatas are the worst idea ever, stop it now.

Every time a parent emerges with a bat and the promise of candy, breaths catch in the air. Looks are exchanged around the room, silently saying, "Brace for catastrophe." If the kids are strong enough to do some serious damage to the furniture, or to another kid's skull, retire the piñata. The other parents thank you.

7. Goodie bags never make it out of the car.

So don't try so hard.

8. No one knows what to do about the gifts.

Do we open the presents? Do we not open presents? Do we avoid making eye contact with the presents?

9. We wish there was booze, too.

We'd all like a way to numb the awkwardness, trust me. So for now we'll just knowingly nod over our diet sodas. 53 minutes to go…

RELATED: Are Kids' Birthday Parties Worth It?

10. It's never quite as bad as we anticipate.

Yes they're exhausting and awkward and, if we're being honest, way too expensive, but we'll still show up to the parties, gift in hand. We'll still send out invitations, even if we "have to" invite the entire class. We'll go through the motions and get through the day, for our kids.

And for the birthday cake.

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