I love my kids’ parties. We’ve had lots of good ones over the years – and a few bad ones. And with my daughter’s birthday just around the corner, it’s time for another one.
All of my children started off with a party at home on their 2nd birthday with just two friends. It was more like just having a couple of kids round to play than an actual party, but it was lovely. For their 3rd birthdays, my younger son had already moved on to soft play, while the other two carried on having parties at home, gradually increasing the number of kids as the years went on.
Being a summer baby, my eldest had parties at home right until he was 6. Because we could have the party in the garden. His 4th birthday party was lovely, his 5th slightly less so. His 6th was one of the worst experiences of my life.
The first two guests arrived and immediately started fighting. Not play fighting. Proper fighting. I didn’t know what to do. I’m never very good at knowing how to tell off other people’s children. My husband tried to distract them with a penalty shoot-out, but that caused more arguments. And more and more boys arrived. I’d stupidly invited every boy in my son’s class. Plus one or two girls.
It was like being trapped in hell. It was the longest two hours of my life. It was 2007 – the year it started raining and didn’t stop. The ground for the penalty shoot-out game was saturated. Then it started raining and the planned picnic in the garden became a picnic in the dining room – with shouting, arguments and lots and lots of mess. I was SO desperate for them to go home.
I should have known what it would be like – my mum always says how awful my brother’s 6th birthday was too.
So, onwards and upwards. More soft play for my younger boy. He loved it and I loved the ease of it all. It felt a bit strange to be doing NOTHING for my own’s son’s birthday party, though. I actually wished I had more to do, which is weird for someone as undomesticated as me.
My daughter had her 3rd and 4th birthday parties at home and they were delightful. What could be better than little girls in pretty dresses dancing and playing musical statues? Then eating nicely without arguing, shouting or fighting?
For their 5th birthdays, my younger two had never-to-be-repeated big parties at the village hall with a magician. The magician was amazing – very good at magic and absolutely hilarious. We videoed his show and still have no idea where that rabbit came from! These parties were lovely as my younger two are lucky enough to have lots of nice children in their classes. I made sure I enjoyed them too – because while I missed helping out at the soft play parties, I didn’t want to to totally miss out on my children’s enjoyment by being shut in the kitchen for two hours.
Both my sons went to the cinema and Pizza Hut or Frankie & Benny’s for their 7th birthdays. My younger son’s was delightful, my eldest’s was – a nightmare. The boys were messing around and laughing at willies in the toilet, then set off at 100mph down the High Street to the cinema, where they proceeded to eat their own body weights in Haribo.
My eldest went camping for his 9th birthday (without me!) and, by all account it was a success. So for his 10th we somehow decided it would be a good idea for him and four friends to camp in the garden. Was my memory really that short?! It wasn’t a good idea.
These four lovely boys arrived and went crazy – running and climbing and shouting. Within an hour of their arrival, we had an Ambulance in the drive. They’d left open a window they’d been climbing out of and one of the boys ran straight into it. I’ve never seen so much blood. As it turns out, it was a very small cut. But never again. Even after that things didn’t really improve. There was more blood (in smaller quantities) and a lot more noise until we sedated them with Back to the Future on DVD. They went to sleep at midnight and were up at 6.
And so to the present day. My daughter wants to go to the cinema and Frankie & Benny’s like her favourite brother did for his last birthday. I’m not sure if her friends are a bit young and shy for this, but she was offered a lot of alternatives and this is what she wanted.
As long as there’s no blood and no fighting, I’ll be happy.