By BERN MORLEY
Over the past thirteen years I’ve been subjected to had the pleasure of attending many a child’s birthday party. In this time, I’ve seen the sublime to the ridiculous. The mind-numbingly crafty to the insanely over the top. It’s often a “parent-off”, basically a parental pissing contest to show who is the most unique and fabulous. The thing is, the kids, they don’t care. Whether it’s a party riding bikes in the local park or swimming with the dolphins, it all boils down to pretty much two things – cake and lolly bags
Here is what I’ve learnt:
1. There will be at least one musical instrument planted inside a party bag that will make you want to shove said musical instrument so far dispose of the mini piccolo/mini xylophone/ear piercing whistle the minute you get home. Basically this is an inside parent joke that passive aggressively tells you, the attendees parent, to suck it. I am trying to source mini bagpipes for Jacks 7th.
2. Your child will have their face painted in such a way that you will require sugar soap and a wire brush to remove it later that night.
3. A good party can be determined by the offer of Birthday cake to the parents in attendance. More than once I’ve had to simply be an outlaw and boldly ask for a piece of delicious cake when none was forthcoming.
4. Your child will cry at least once. There will be a minor head injury. And there will be a time when a giant medicine ball is released from a giant slide and will mow down an innocent child.
5. There will be a piñata incident. Whether it comes via a wayward child connecting with a parent’s testicles or just from a parent beating the Bejesus out of a stubborn cardboard Dora the Explorer with a broom handle to release the lollies, there will be something that has to be explained to a parent at some stage.
6. Your child will leave the party as a mess. Physically and emotionally. I mean, they’ve consumed their body weight in cheezels, red frogs and cupcakes, let’s face it, it’s a wonder they aren’t in a sugar coma.
7. You will be looked down upon if you drop and run. I have learned to deal with my shame by going and getting a back and shoulder massage in the allotted 3 hours.
8. You WILL forget to dress your child in appropriate designated costume. Look, I did this not 5 days ago. We had three, count em, three, parties in one day. And one of those was at some Build a Bear joint and my 6 year old son was supposed to dress up as his favourite superhero. Unfortunately he’d just been at a party where he was riding an annoyed 23 year old pony. Unless the dress code was a dirt faced Melbourne hipster child, then he did it wrong.
9. You will feel uneasy and out of place. As a parent, I can tell you that for years I detested going to parties. I, as a working Mum, rarely knew anyone and would stand in corners and smile manically at any parent that passed me by. It wasn’t long though, and this probably comes from maturity and I guess, simply no longer caring, that I just started talking to other Mums. The good ones, the ones you resonated with and found you had something in common with, soon became apparent. I’m great friends with a lot of these Mums to this day. So get out of your comfort zone, you may just make a friend for life.
And finally I know this.
Your child, at their own party, will start out looking like this:
Midway through, they will still be doing okay and looking a little something like this:
If all has gone sufficiently to plan, he/she will end up like this:
Naked and angry in the middle of the lounge room.
Bern is a Gen X, child of the 80′s. Kept busy being a working mother of 3 children, one with Aspergers, renovating the original money pit and drinking too many coffees in the space of 24 hours. One day she’ll remember to leave the meat out for tea but until then she writes beautiful and amusing posts on her blog which you can find here.
So how about you – what have you learned from children’s birthday parties?