As a teenager, my daughter complained about my shopping for bargains and frequent use of the sentence, “No, I will not buy that.”
As a married, working woman with no children and a working husband, she shopped as she always wanted to shop as a teenager.
Now, as a married woman with three young children and limited work, she finally understands why I was such a penny-pinching, mean ole’ mom.
Not wanting to always be the meanest mom on the block, months ago she began planning and shopping for her son’s recent birthday party. When she came across a drastic mark-down on cake toppers, she bought the cute tent with a light inside, the campfire, the boat and the tree with kids in it.
“They are perfect,” she said as she pulled them out to decorate the giant cookie I had made at her son’s request. She added a few strips of green frosting that looked like grass and which stabilized the decorations.
Like many of today’s young mothers, she searched Pinterest for creative, colorful ideas for the party and found the idea for the tall cardboard sign attached to the mailbox telling guests to “turn here for the campground.”
“And what is this for?” I asked, pointing at a white paper plate taped to a stick.
“It’s for paddle balloons,” she said, picking up a balloon to gently hit with the plate. A simple, inexpensive and entertaining game.
The boys arrived at three. Their boyish energy exploded around the yard until, as she wrote on Facebook, “The ice cream man paid us a visit. One sweet boy sadly said, ‘Um, I forgot my money.’ He didn’t know I had used an Arkansas Daily Deal coupon! He was super excited!”
The blown-up colorful pictures of icy treats promised delightful tastes at equally blown-up prices. However, with the coupon, she paid one price ahead of time to get ice cream treats at half their posted prices on the day of the party.
As my son said, “It is always fun to buy something from the ice cream truck.” He should know – he sold ice cream from a truck for a couple of weeks one summer. He experienced long days of driving around, trying to find a crowd to guarantee enough sales to pay for the gas and ice cream and to provide him with more than just pocket change.
This ice cream man, confident with his pre-sale, smiled and leaned out the window over the swarm of children. One-by-one the kids chose their treats and went to sit on the steps of the sidewalk. Quiet descended as they ate their sweets and the adults also chose a treat to cash out the pre-paid ice cream debit card.
Sticky fingers and faces wiped clean, the boys, and men who remained, took a hike to the creek on a scavenger hunt of nature. While they checked out the nearby stream, my daughter grilled hamburgers. She proudly told me she bought them when they were half price and that she also purchased the chips and sodas on sale.
The adults passed out food and tried to control children as best they could, guiding the boys through activities until the overnight campout.
Two days after the party, she posted, “After counting birthday money and having a lesson about tithing and savings, Eli took a long-awaited trip to Toys R Us for Legos! Because of a buy one, get one at 40 percent off sale, Eli was able to buy three kits. He had just enough!”
His party is over. Planning and purchasing for the next spring’s birthday parties for his sisters have already begun with a list of gifts, party favors and decorations my daughter hopes to find on sale before spring arrives.
Yep, that’s my daughter.