Jamaican Mommies by Shanoy Coombs: From Jamaica; for the world
In a few weeks baby girl turns all of four years old. She has been waiting, counting and inquiring daily about this big day. At all of 4 she has been to quite a few birthday parties. She is also old enough to describe in some detail what and whom should be fixtures at her birthday party and on some level it warms my heart to know I am raising an independent toddler who has So much attention to details, yet is open to suggestions/alternative ideas (I kid you not)
While planning for her birthday party though it got me thinking of a birthday party issue that gets at me every time…
Who is the birthday party really for?
To give some context, as a mommy to a toddler, I have been exposed to quite a few birthday parties- some that start way too late (for kids) in my humble opinion; some that the music is clearly more fitting for a dance hall gathering (again in my humble opinion) and some that the frills and thrills seem just a little over the top for a child-related affair (but hey if you have it, why not splurge right?) and then there are some that you shake your head, sigh, gasp and even literally ‘kin over’ (turn over)when you wonder how anyone could think THAT could be suitable for a child …example………. (please click to read the enlarged font)
Let us for a moment, examine the flier above, all indications point to this being an all out dancehall fest, clearly one would assume, fitting for adults and then Birthday Boy Romaro- a child- gets thrown in the mix. It may be funny when one points out how the birthday boy is smacked between two ‘sexy’ women, but on a deeper level, this is a reality here and now in Jamaica.
In a nation where there are concerns about teenage pregnancy, adolescent deviant behaviour, children having sex, Children mimicking adult sexual behaviour via dance and examination grades that need much improvement, we tend to overlook somewhat
simple ..COMPLEX issues such as what we expose our children to or what we promote to them as being the norm.
I could easily forsee something like THIS (below) therefore taking place at Romario’s birthday party and I do not say this blindly as a random youtube search could show you some parties intended for adults, where some little boy is being encouraged to dagger (a dance move that simulates sexual intercourse-often with the woman being thrust back and forth from behind by a male companion) an older woman.
Let it be clear, this is not an attack on Jamaican Dance hall music, but kids by their very virtue of existence should be protected from things that may be damaging to their character and outlook on life. Moreso, any attempt to promote adult behaviours as acceptable for kids should be shunned.
So for the life of love, common sense and parental responsibility, the next time your event relates to your child, your niece, nephew, cousin-any child, please make make the planning and execution reflect such.
We know you want it to be a true Bashment event and you want everyone to talk about how bad (Jamaican for good, over the top, great) Romario’s party was, but at the end of the day, what happens when at 12, Romario wishes to go to the dance down the road? what then? does he suddenly become too young to go?
Just think on these things…Not because its fitting for you as an adult (it may not even be fitting for you as a parent) does it mean it is fitting for your child.
And lest anyone think I chose to use an extreme example, the same applies to birthday parties that have musical selections that can be heard at the hottest parties around or playlists that could have easily been compiled by some of Jamaica’s leading DJs…for adult events.
So the next time you decide to have your kids birthday party, even with all the ‘uptown’ frills and thrills, cocktail bar, 4 course meal, bartender for the adults, servers, polite chatter and the like, but then the DJ starts playing dancehall’s “Bubble Gal Bubble” or Soca’s “Wine girl wine”, I can forgive you for the extravagance, but not for the non-child friendly musical selections. There are wayy too many kiddies music selections to go around or even musical beats if you want to strike a balance.
Do you have a kiddies birthday party pet peeve? Do share it with us..