Pay Attention at Kids Birthday Parties. They are Parables.

Pay Attention at Kids Birthday Parties. They are Parables.

When’s the last time, as an adult, you paid attention at a kids birthday party? A youngin’ not your own?

As grown ups, we aren’t found as frequently on the trampolines that can bounce us into a major knee surgery. We aren’t hanging from obstacles and giggling over the 1,200 calorie slice of cake dressed in butter cream icing, saddled with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

So, what are we adults doing?

Dads are talking about their worlds. Moms are talking about their worlds and lives. Ladies are always better at talking about their lives. If we adults aren’t talking, we are, worst of all, craned over our phones. We are mostly disengaged from the people and the party itself. We, the adults, weren’t invited anyways. Our kids were. We are their drivers minus the Mercedes SUV and snazzy hat.

But while at a recent party, I broke the protocol: I paid attention. Not only did I pay attention, I was engaged. I cheered kids on as they attempted ninja warrior type obstacles. And I laughed plenty too. When it came time for cake and presents, I was surprised.

I’ve noticed a new trend at kids parties that I thought I was in total favor of: not opening presents at the party. Genius, I thought. We can leave. Typically at parties, I lament the parade of presents. I don’t care about these presents; I’m ready to go home; Let’s get out of here. (I can be a selfish jerk). But this party was different. It was old school. The birthday boy, surrounded and nearly suffocated by his crowding friends, opened present after present in the presence of everyone.

As Lego sets were freed from their wrapping, a choir of oohs and ahhs came forth. “Let me see…awesome!”, was heard from the back of the crowd. Video games were pumped in the air and the towns people rejoiced.

It was wonderful. Refreshing. Joyous. A hint Christian.

What I saw was more than a kid opening presents. I saw a parable.

Rejoice with those who rejoice. 

Romans 12:15

These children were genuinely happy for their friend—happy for his happiness, excited in his excitement, giddy over his gifts, joyous from his joy. No resentment. No bitterness. No I-wish-that-was-mineness. They lived out Paul’s admonition. They taught me.

Another’s joys are not a chore—they are my joy too.

I love the old school way of doing things. Let’s bring it back. Let’s teach our kids how to rejoice with someone else. And maybe, just maybe, when the time comes, they will know how to weep with those who weep. 

You can learn a lot at a birthday party—more than which kid is ready for deodorant. There are parables to behold. Kids birthday parties are a parable of community. Engage and you might see it too.

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