The Joy of Caking

April 29th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  8 Comments


JP will shortly turn 4, which is a good thing—I’m not the sort of parent who thinks they grow up so fast. They don’t. Four years is a long time, I didn’t get to sleep for the first two of them, and last night at dinner, my son, my great love, mankind’s last and final hope, told me that he intended to “shoot me sooner” and also “burn me in the oven.” This because I said he couldn’t have his dessert until he cleaned his plate.

Anyway, with the birthday comes the party, which in a divorcing family such as mine is a true pleasure and joy. Last year, my ex and I were civil enough with each other to hold a joint party. This year … not so much.

We are currently in high-level discussions about holding such a party. To come to a decision—one party, two, how does it impact the custody agreement, does he get one bike or two?—requires the involvement of three lawyers, a mediator, four priests, her rabbi (she’s Catholic), and Kofi Annan. Outcome pending.

My point in all of this—and please, no need to remind me to put the child first, I know that—is I am curious what if any stories/perspectives my fellow divorced DadWagoners have on the topic. A minor thing in the long run, I know, but birthdays are a big deal to kids, and any help you folks out there have would be appreciated.

For the record, I suggested joint party.


  1. WeaselMomma says:

    April 29th, 2010at 1:05 pm(#)

    I fortunately have no experience in this area. That sai, it depends on the relationship that you have worked out with your ex-wife.

  2. Chris | @Wrath66 says:

    April 29th, 2010at 1:18 pm(#)

    Speaking as a son who has parents with five divorces between them and as the four-year-old kid who was uncomprehendingly in this very situation, I say suck it up, do your best to buy JP a (and this is key) *memorable* gift, and ferchrissakes be as civil to the ex as you possibly can before and during. Let loose after.

    JP (and the kid IS what matters) will remember the great gift Dad got him on his fourth birthday and you’ll remember you were bigger and better than the circumstances.

    (NOTE: The only part of this I believe my Dad did was procure the memorable gift. A gift which at the time I’m certain was far outside his financial comfort zone. I’m NOT suggesting that “memorable” equates to “expensive”.)

    Real talk. Word an’ sh*t.

  3. dadwagon says:

    April 29th, 2010at 3:06 pm(#)

    Wrath66-Appreciate the thoughts. I guess what I was curious about was whether joint or separate parties make a difference? My (divorced) folks never organized one together and party of me thinks I wished they had; the other part thinks I’m viewing that from my slightly guilty perspective as an adult. –Theodore.

  4. newsingledad says:

    April 30th, 2010at 1:50 pm(#)

    After numerous birthday parties spanning 5 kids, a couple of things you might consider;

    • Really, at 4, they’re not going to remember this party much, so unless you’re really primed them for presents, a good time is what’s important. By 6 years old, they don’t have much of a clue of what they did on their 4th birthday, and the present is well outgrown.

    • Will a joint party turn into something unpleasant? Kids pick up on stuff. If there’s huge tension, he’s going to know it’s there, even if he doesn’t know why. If there’s any chance it could turn into something visibly ugly, it’s not worth it.

    • If presents are a problem you can always “find” one more present the next time he’s with you. It always great to have one more thing later, and if that one more thing might cause an issue at the party, don’t bother. Kids don’t have the same value system we have. The slinky could be more valuable to him than then bike, regardless of the price.

    • Parties are pretty much overload for little kids. To much input, too much going on, too many presents, too many people. It’s way over the top usually. Keep that in mind as you try to plan how the “adults” will navigate the landmines. :) If you can plan a joint party that’s a bit more low key, you all might do better.

    • Lastly, and I know you know this one, more important than presents, balloons, games, cake or whatever, make sure you’re there for him. It’s HIS day. I actually saw a kid getting chewed out by his parents as HIS OWN PARTY because he did come to the table fast enough when called. So much for his special day. Be there for him. Keep an eye on him,and make sure that if he needs some reassurance, or a hand, or a hug, that you’re nearby.

    If all that fails, slip mom a Valium. 😉

    Good luck

  5. Darryl says:

    April 30th, 2010at 4:30 pm(#)

    Your kid, should he grow up to fulfill his threats, will be a hero. Good for him.

  6. Chris | @Wrath66 says:

    April 30th, 2010at 4:39 pm(#)

    “Separate but equal” is rarely a good idea. One party. You can exercise your civil rights… er, behavior.


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