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Port Discovery Children's Museum

When kids' birthday celebrations are too much

When kids' birthday celebrations are too much

I had a Strawberry Shortcake birthday party when I was 8 years old. I remember it fondly. My dress was dotted with tiny blossoms, and vertical ruffles stretched along the bodice. My mother curled my hair into ringlets with her curling iron (a rare experience), and when I turned my head suddenly or twirled in my dress, my curls grazed my face and I smelled the grown-up aroma of singed hair. It smelled heavenly.

We lived with my grandmother at the time, and she and my mom had scrubbed every inch of the house. The dining room table was Lemon-Pledged till it sparkled. My cake — from a real bakery! — sat in the middle, my name dainty in sugary fondant. Queasy with...