Toddler birthday bash

Published 4:27 pm Monday, May 24, 2010

Long ago, a birthday party meant cake made in Mama’s kitchen, and summer birthdays included homemade ice cream.

The highlight was making a wish and blowing out candles. Only a few folks joined in celebration, and presents were fabric for a new dress or a book.

Birthday parties have changed.

Gradually, the invitee list has grown, and farm animals were added.

A Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey game was replaced with pony rides. Then clowns came, scaring many into sleeplessness and nightmares.

Today’s parents rent giant inflatable play equipment seen at street fairs. Possibilities are endless.

On May 2, one Shelby County family hosted a toddler’s birthday party at Mountain Brook Gymnastics near Liberty Park.

It was Shelby County residents Julie and Chris Addiss’ daughter Reagan’s third birthday. Several friends arrived to help celebrate, in spite of a thunderstorm.

The 3-year-olds were led by professionals in several activities involving a need to follow directions.

Birthday Girl Reagan Addiss led the way, making tasks seem easy, having taken a class called “Tumbling Tots” at Odyssey Early School in Inverness.

The children climbed, jumped, and crawled over equipment meant for much larger children or adults, bouncing on a trampoline, sliding into a crescent-shaped bowl at least 10 feet deep, and climbing out.

They grabbed a bright silk “parachute” filled with rubber balls, tossing them into the air. The most exciting activity was clearly a six foot deep “swimming pool” filled with foam blocks.

The toddlers jumped in and “swam” to the other side. Then dads joined in, one doing a back flip into the “pool.” Laughter rocked the room.

A party room was ready, tables brightly draped and balloons hanging high. Another table held gifts.

After pizza and juice, candles were lit on a birthday cake. Now, the birthday party began to feel familiar, like the celebrations of my childhood.

Of note, every child’s father was present at this party, a remarkable change in today’s parental involvement. Years ago, most dads let moms attend children’s functions, choosing rather to watch Wide World of Sports, hit the golf course or a fishing stream. Fathers of today spend time with children, encouraging them, giving hope for the next generation.

Mountain Brook Gymnastics offers several birthday party packages, all which include party invitations addressed and mailed, one hour of private gym time with trained and energetic staff, and more. For information call 969-4889.

Gladys Hodge Sherrer can be reached by e–mail at