One good thing about having children decades apart is that you can compare practices then and now and bore everyone with your insistence that things were much better then.
Things weren't better then. They were just different. Children didn't walk around bristling with electronic devices in the early 1980s; they walked around bristling with hand-held games and Casio watches and Transformers. The telephone was on the wall. Teenagers used it just as much; they just couldn't take it to bed.
One thing is different: children's birthday parties. There are more of them. We're averaging one a week for William and Thomas from their friends at school and kindergarten. You can't attend all of them.
Occasionally these birthday parties are hosted in the child's actual house, where their mother serves party food and cake. Increasingly, however, people other than parents host the party and it is held off the premises in cavernous places that used to be warehouses or factories, and that now bear names containing the syllable 'Kidz'. In these party 'venues', the hosting parents act not as hosts, but as greeters. They willingly pay money for this downgrade in social status from hostess to butler.
Of course, we accept these invitations when we can; even though we originally vowed our children would never set foot in party factories. One was held at a children's martial arts venue (yes, ridiculous, I know) in which the entertainment was the host demonstrating some of the lessons available, the hosting' parents were offered a bonus for any party attendees who 'sign up' as members, and the invitation advertised discounts for party-goers. That's not a party; it's a recruiting drive.
We received another invitation last week. This one took the cake, if you'll pardon the pun. In the RSVP section it read: 'Hurry. Places are limited'.
People are losing the plot.