Forget the twisty straws, Tootsie rolls and Dora the Explorer plates with matching cups, hats and tablecloth. There are signs that more parents would like to.
Anxious about the economy, global warming and our national image as people who would rent a limo for a kid’s party while a polar bear’s ice floe melts, many are toning down the trappings of that classic annual ritual, the blowout birthday party. They are saying no to plastic toys and water bottles, paper plates, gift wrap and new toys. There is even a modest backlash against the goody bag, the sack of candy and plastic knickknacks usually thrust into each sticky hand at the end of parties.
* * *
“There is nothing more bacchanalian than a kid’s birthday party,” said Sarah Lane, a founder of Washington state’s Progressive Kid, which has a Web site with suggestions on how to raise kids with good values. “You should see what gets thrown away. It’s disgusting.”
This week’s San Francisco Examiner notes that the city’s residents are now throwing away those disgusting birthday parties entirely — “San Francisco becoming a child-free zone as youth population declines:”
Despite efforts to stem the tide of family flight, the population of children in San Francisco continues to ebb.
Families that remain in The City are bucking the trend that has plagued San Francisco for years as the number of children — defined as people up to 17 years old — has dropped from 181,532 in 1960 to 107,524 today, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau figures. The 2000 census counted 112,802 youths.
The decrease is disappointing news for city officials, who have attempted to counter the family-flight trend by creating more affordable housing, improving schools and cutting costs, such as a college savings account for kindergarten enrollees.
“It’s definitely not a hopeful sign that we have 5,000 less kids,” said N’Tanya Lee, the executive director of San Francisco-based advocacy group Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, which lobbies City Hall on budget and housing issues.
Of course, as the Examiner notes, this isn’t exactly a new trend; even AP was noting that “San Francisco has the smallest share of small-fry of any major U.S. city,” back in 2005. And way back in 2000, Harry Stein wrote in, How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (and Found Inner Peace), “Someone’s going on about how fantastic San Francisco is, and it suddenly hits you that’s one place on earth you never want to live.”
All of which makes you wonder: when the next San Francisco far left loony rails on against the dangers of Happy Meals, Junior ROTC, family-friendly SUVs or heck, circumcision, what’s the point of passing these laws when there are fewer and fewer kids left in the city?
(Incidentally, who’s number two, the Avis of the Zero Population Growth set? Why, that would be those fellow hipsters in Seattle.)
Meanwhile, another big blue town continues to have far worse population decline: Detroit’s population dropped 25 percent in the last decade; leading to this hyperbolic Time magazine headline: “Vanishing City: The Story Behind Detroit’s Shocking Population Decline.”
What’s so shocking about it? The model for socialism has always been, if you build it, they will leave. At the Belmont Club this week, Richard Fernandez noted that “Detroit is only one of several cities which have seen heavy population losses. New Orleans has lost nearly 30% of its population, followed by Detroit itself, and Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.”
Or as Mark Steyn wrote in 2005, “what’s the point of creating a secular utopia if it’s only for one generation?”
(Cross-posted at Ed Driscoll.com)