Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Celebrating a Birthday Away from Home

We've all been there, away from home, having a birthday, but as a parent of four grown kids who all are away from home celebrating birthdays, it's proving to be more of a challenge than it used to be!
"Check your PO Box!"
Why is it that college kids don't check their PO Boxes?
"Why should I? I never get any mail."
Kids who've graduated, figure out very quickly that they better check the mail because good stuff, like bills are sent that way. I know, not for long, or not if they check that box to have it sent electronically, but for the most part, at least for now, snail mail.
Not only is not checking the PO Box a challenge, but then there's the big question of what do you send? Is it better / easier just to send money or transfer money or tell them to buy themselves something and you'll pay them back... That's assuming they have the do-re-mi to make the purchase up front, not likely.
Do you send them an electronic birthday card? Is that where you tell them that they'd better check their PO Box or that you've sent something UPS or FedEx to whereever it's supposed to be sent at their college, (ie., their dorm).
Or if they've graduated and living in a city, can you send something UPS or FedEx and not worry. Is there a doorman? Or a place that takes their packages safely? Is it better to send stuff to their work address? All of this is a challenge. What do you do?
Colleges make it a little easier with their "Parents' Clubs" that offer a cake delivery with balloons to the dorm room. Are kids horrified by that, embarrassed or are they secretly thrilled that you remembered and went to the trouble of ordering that?
Do you send a big box filled with stuff? I've got friends that basically unload Hallmark into a box: paper plates, balloons, streamers, party hats... It's a party in a box! As for the cake, it's delivered by a nice "Mom volunteer". The box also contains an article of clothing, maybe a coffee mug from the local store, so they don't forget "home", maybe some fun earrings or makeup or a local team T shirt just so they don't forget their old allegiance!!
It's a dilemma!
You want them to know that you're thinking of them, after all, you were there all those years ago! Whose birthday is it anyway? I mean really! :) You used to make such a production out of their birthdays when they were little: clowns, excursions, inflatable trampolines... all of their nearest and dearest came, OK OURnearest and dearest...it was a scene! And now? How do you just stop? And then to make things more complicated, what you do for one you sure as heck better do for the other, or at least something comparable, because if you don't think they notice or compare notes, you're sorely mistaken. Right guys?
Maybe you enlist the help of a friend, a significant other? Maybe you just send a check? Do you make a big deal or a bigger deal out of the milestone birthdays? 21? Is 25 a milestone? I think so, I'm not sure why, but I do. If you're hundreds or thousands of miles away do you rely on crossing your fingers and hoping one of their friends comes through and commemorates the day or do you actively engage and ask them to rally on your behalf for your kid? Maybe one of their friends or siblings or significant other has taken care of the celebration on their own with no engagement from the mother, now that's a milestone! Thanks girls!
Why am I even thinking about this? Today is our youngest's birthday. No more teenagers in our family. What did I do to commemorate the day? I used Facebook and texting, I even uploaded a photo to HIS Facebook page (that took a few minutes to figure out how to do), I called and left a message on his phone... and a few days ago I sent a package with a few assorted items, nope no party in a box, but definitely a couple of "heartstring" reminders of where he's from AND I told him to go to his PO Box. (Btw, when he did, there was a package from Valentine's Day that I'd sent....that was weeks ago!!! argh!) And finally, one of those nice "Mom volunteers" will be stopping by his fraternity with a cake today/tonight. I think he's going to be mortified...but secretly pleased that his Mom remembered him. Fingers crossed.

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