I am preparing for Captain Clumsy’s Birthday Party today. A sleepover to which five 8 year old boys are invited.
Kid’s birthday parties are really not all that bad. There’s a bit of preparation and organisation. There are a couple of hours of chaos followed by a little bit of mess to tidy up. No big deal right?
Your child’s happiness hinges on your ability to throw the Party Of The Year.
So, a timeline.
T – 14 days.
You spend hours online searching for the perfect invitation. It has to convey just the right amount of enthusiasm and information. It must match the theme. The colour has to be just right and the wording has to be perfect. If it isn’t, you spend two hours editing the thing in a ‘paint’ document to make it so. * We do this despite the fact that we know full well parents will put the date in their calendar and toss the invite into the bin.
You carefully plan a menu. You Google things like ‘Dr Seuss Menu’ and make a shopping list of ingredients for ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ and ‘Pink Ink Yink Drink.’
T- 7 days
You plan games and entertainment and slave for hours finding ways to make it all so cleverly tie into the theme. (Pin the Hat on the Cat anyone?) If you have to pull out your ‘Martha Steward Skills’ and make it yourself, you do.
T- 3 days
You shop for ingredients, there’s always one thing (fondant) that requires a 45 minute drive because every single shop close to home is sold out. We cannot possible conceive of not having fondant. Regular butter icing just will not do.
T – 2 days
You spend an hour calling the 90% of mothers who do not RSVP.
You make thoughtful little theme inspired lolly bags, making sure each bag is exactly the same thus avoiding arguments.
You (or in my case my awesome sister) spend 6 hours making the most beautiful birthday cake ever made.
T – 1 day
You spend 18 hours in the kitchen delicately and precisely preparing themed food.
You run out to the shops 4 times to pick up the ingredients you forgot. Or if you’re me you run out the shops 4 times to pick up the ingredients for the cupcakes you burned. 4 times.
T – 6 hours
You write a blog post. (and from here on out I am pre-empting. I feel qualified to do that because I have had precisely 33 birthdays to cater to in my parenting career)
You clean the house from top to bottom. Can’t have the other mums looking at dust now can we.
T – 3 hours
You start to think that this time; it might not be so bad. (pfft)
T – 1 hour
Yes everything is under control….Oh crap you forgot to buy colour co-ordinated napkins. Off to the shops again.
T- 0 Party Time.
No matter how prepared you are, no matter how much forethought or consideration or preparation you have put into your child’s party, there will always be something. Hundreds of things can go awry, and usually at least a couple of them do.
-Friends inevitably begin to arrive 25 minutes early when you are in the shower so you end up greeting guests with a towel on your head.
-One kid shows up with his 5 younger siblings “You don’t mind, do you?” says his Mum
-The games that you painstakingly prepared are all but ignored. ‘That’s boring’, ‘I don’t want to do that’, ‘that’s for babies’ – instead all 12 kids tear around your house chasing the cat.
-When you convince them to sit still long enough for pass the parcel it’s all a little underwhelming. Despite the fact that you rig the game so that everybody wins, no-one is happy. Some kids cry, some kids want what he’s got, some just toss the parcel not even trying to hide their disdain.
-The food that took a whole day to plan, a whole day to buy and a whole day to prepare is inhaled in exactly 33 seconds. No one cares that the eggs are green and the lemonade is pink.
-The carrot and celery sticks that you put out as a show of commitment to health will sit optimistically on the table for the duration of the party.
-The colour co-ordinated napkins will be ignored. The kids will use their sleeves or the walls.
-Someone will get hurt and want to go home.
-Someone will try to get you to bend their parents’ rules “I won’t tell my Mum I promise!”
-The Birthday child will,at some stage of the party, be overwhelmed and go hide for a while.
-The birthday cake will hardly be noticed. The kids just see cake, and they just want to eat it. They don’t care that it has fondant instead of butter icing, they don’t care that it is in the shape of a book and they don’t care to read the clever Dr Seuss quote that it features.
-Whilst opening presents the birthday child will either toss something unimpressive to the side or announce “Hey now I have two”
-When the parents come to collect their kids they will always say “I hope he was good for you?” and of course, even if he was the most deplorable little monster alive you must reply “Oh he’s an angel, we hardly knew he was here, he is welcome any time”
-The birthday child can hardly muster the manners to say Goodbye and Thank you for coming. The guests only say Goodbye and Thankyou in exchange for their lolly bags.
-When the house is empty you get to clean cake out of the carpet, sticky lemonade of the floor, and green eggs off the roof.
-You find the cat hiding in your underwear drawer.
-You find the vase in the bathroom smashed into a million pieces.
-You find at least 17 items of lost property, among them a shoe. Someone has gone home wearing one shoe. (Yes, this has happened!)
-You fall in a heap and vow never ever ever to do it ever again. Next time, you say, we will go to the indoor play centre.
Disclaimer – I should probably mention that in the end I did not make ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ and ‘Pink Ink Yink Drink.’ I have no excuse, I just couldn’t be bothered.
*I did this, hated the result and decided to use store bought invites instead.