It starts just after Christmas in my house: no sooner have the baubles been packed away and the last of the crackers pulled, Son B’s little voice informs me, “It’s my birthday soon – let’s make a list.” And for the next four months (yes, his birthday’s in May, for gawd’s sake!) there will be a running commentary on what he might like (the list changes every week), what we should do and who to invite. I’m left scratching my head, trying to explain patiently how it’s not going to be possible to buy a 3D printer, or create an LED-spattered roof terrace accessed from his bedroom, or dig a trench in our patch of a garden so we can have a sort of Ninja Warrior meets The Cube competition, “cos that’d just be so cool!”.
Pah! I know I shouldn’t say it, but my heart sinks every time, and it isn’t just because birthdays are a blinding reminder that my ‘baby’ is growing up faster than Jack’s beanstalk. Part of me just hankers for the old days when a bit of jelly and ice-cream would suffice. Maybe it’s a throwback to my Seventies childhood, but we just didn’t do big bashes back then – and the generation before us was even more rudimentary when it came to parties. My poor sister spent her 10th birthday blowing out the candles of a hastily made cake, while our mother was upstairs, giving birth to me (sorry sis!).
Maybe I’m just scarred from Parties Of The Past. There was karate party for Son B’s 6th (it’s always Son B; Son A’s never been fussed about celebrations). The company had come highly recommended, but for some reason sent a hapless 16-year-old along on the day to host a party of 20 kids on a sugar rush in a sports hall. Poor blighter, I’ve no doubt he had a black belt in karate but no one had prepared him for the boredom thresholds of children, so after a few ‘Hi-yaaahs’ and high kicks he soon ran out of things to entertain them. I panicked when he enquired with a haunted look in his eyes: “I’m only booked til 3, right?” when actually he had another hour-and-a-half to go! We ended up bailing him out with musical chairs and a very odd version of pass the parcel. “Never again!” we sighed afterwards.
The following year we smugly went for the tried-and-tested (but hugely expensive) gym party. We gave a sharp intake of breath, but reasoned it would be worth it not to have to entertain the kids ourselves. What could possibly go wrong? This time the party fell apart before it even started. Just as we’re meeting and greeting and scattering balloons, an unknown mum comes over with a lad (who’d basically invited himself), slaps a tenner in my hand in lieu of a card/gift, then starts – very audibly – to lay into another mum, snarling and issuing threats because her kid had offended her boy in the playground the day before! She stormed out, leaving us with a sobbing seven-year-old and his equally shaky parent. At least her boy had the decency to look embarrassed. The party was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
So, call me old-fashioned, but this year I’m not getting sucked in. A nice cake (must remember to order…) a few carefully chosen presents (quick look on Amazon…) and a friend round for the afternoon. Anyway, I’ve already warned Son B we’re going to have to play it low-key this birthday if we’re ever to afford to have the Space Station party with the 1:2:1 with Tim Peake next year…
While we’re talking feeling pooped about parties, we think this little comedy sketch sums the whole kids’ party thing perfectly. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
We love these funny mums and you can find out more about their hilarious goings on here on Facebook .
We’d love to hear about your most stressful, funny or nightmare kid’s party, so that we don’t feel all alone so please, do feel free leave us a comment. Thank you! x