Living vicariously through children’s birthday parties

One thing I didn’t know about before having kids was the social aspect of the kid birthday parties. We go to kid birthday parties all the time, and they’re all super fun. Adult birthdays are different — unless it’s a milestone birthday you celebrate with a few friends or family with dinner or drinks. Sometimes there’s a cake, and there’s almost never a piñata. Usually there aren’t even gifts.

At a kid party, kids invite all their friends and there is usually a piñata. Even when parents ask for no gifts, there is ALWAYS a giant pile of gifts. And cake. OF COURSE THERE’S CAKE.

I love this aspect of having young kids because I love celebrating.

My kids were invited to a birthday party at a horse farm recently, and while I love all parties,  birthday parties at horse farms are why I had kids.

Like, when I saw the first horse I felt so incredibly happy that for a moment I forgot that it wasn’t my birthday party.

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Both my kids loved the horses. David was especially excited. He asked to ride the same horse over and over because he overheard someone saying that the grey one was a Thoroughbred, the kind of horse that races.

All the horses moved at the same pace — a slow amble — head down, neck swaying. A lap around the arena so leisurely that the horse had plenty of time to sneak off and get a pedicure, watch an episode of Mr. Ed, and be back in time for the kid to dismount. But David never noticed. He only wanted the fast one.

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Cinderella on a Palomino. When she saw this picture she said, “Mama, look at the sparkle on my pink helmet!”


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Not until after the party, when I was looking at these photos, did it occur to me that my kids might have been scared. Like, that was a total possibility. Horses are big and unfamiliar to my kids, being unsure would have been a natural response.

But they were both really brave — they stood in line again and again to take rides.

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On the way to the party, David and Mary Virginia were asking questions, the same questions, over and over. The party was in a part of Richmond I’m not familiar with, and there were lots of turns and winding roads, so I was watching the road while paying close attention to the directions.

At one point David started asking me what a pony is. “Mommy, what’s a pony? What’s a pony? Mommy is a pony a horse? MOMMY WHAT IS A PONY??” Meanwhile, Siri was saying, “In 500 feet, turn right.”


Without even thinking, I replied, “A PONY IS A BABY HORSE!”

The egregious error came out of my mouth like a brick, and 14-year old Amanda, a girl who memorized the “horse” entry in my parents’ old encyclopedia, and used terms like “martingale” in daily conversation, almost passed out.

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to undo the error. Ponies are not baby horses. Baby horses are called foals. A pony is a horse that is smaller than 14.2 hands. 14.3 hands? That’s a horse.

What’s a “hand” you ask? WELL GRAB A SEAT AND GET COMFORTABLE! We have a lot of material to cover!

This is when my kids roll their eyes and whisper to each other, “A pony is a baby horse, right? Right.”

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As the party started to wind down, a friend and I decided to ask if adults could possibly, please, maybe take a quick ride? They said, sure! You’re more than welcome to ride with your child.

Oh. Yeah. That’s what we meant. With our kid. HA! You thought we wanted to take solo pony rides? HAHAAH! We’re self-respecting thirty-somethings! We weren’t trying to sneak in a pony ride at a kid party! That would have been lame and desperate!

When I went to get Mary Virginia, she was face-down in a cupcake and very difficult to motivate, which was a shock because I thought “horseback riding with Mommy” was at the tippy top of her greatest dreams.

But instead she said, “But, Mommy first can I finish my cupcake?”

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We took one, lame, slow lap around the arena and the whole time I was beaming. This is what I dreamed motherhood would look like — me, my daughter, a horse, beams of sunshine, Cinderella sparkles.

We dismounted, and I was still basking in the glow of our Mother-Daughter equestrian moment when she said, “Mommy? Next time can I just go by myself?”

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Happy birthday to Kaitlyn! We had so much fun at your party!

For anyone local, this party was at Journey of Hope — a therapeutic riding facility. We had a great experience with the facility, the horses, and the staff. I can’t recommend it enough, and they didn’t ask me to say that.

You can learn more about their farm and birthday parties here.

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