(Strip Number 591, Original Publication Date, 13 April 1984)
Panel 1: Now that Elly is home, we join her conversation with Mike already in progress. He tells her that "At Jeff's party, we all got big prizes! At Greg's party, they took us for pizza an'a movie! At Mark's party, they hired a magician!!"
Panel 2: He then astonishes her and ruins her life FOREVER by asking her what she's gonna do for his party.
Panel 3: Since she sees the idea of spending a lot of money on a kid's birthday party as an insane imposition, she asks if it's a birthday party or a competition.
Panel 4: Since John realizes that one-upmanship is a thing, he astonishes Elly (who doesn't) by saying "May the best Mom win!" Elly, of course, is gobsmacked by this.
Summary: Were Coffee Talk still a feature, we would no doubt get notes explaining that Elly really objected to having to outdo all the other mothers because she doesn't want Mike to become a materialistic jerk. The problem is that she doesn't mind his being a greedy idiot just so long as it benefits her somehow. Also, Elly clearly doesn't understand why Mike wants all of this stuff. While it is true that she remembers wanting to have things other kids had when she was nine, she assumes that Mike must think like she does and is pretending he doesn't to make her miserable.