Turns out children birthday parties don’t have to mean losing your Saturday afternoon to a room of coloured foam which smells of feet. There is hope. Sam talks children’s parties at home.
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We have officially reached a new stage in children’s birthday parties. This stage is, I can safely say, the best stage so far. This is the stage where you drop your child off……and leave! I didn’t even know this stage existed, so it was a very pleasant discovery.
No longer will I dread the invitation in the school bag. On the contrary, I shall now eagerly rip open those pirate envelopes, RSVP the day of receipt (unlike my normal, the morning of the event) and add those all important free hours to the calendar that my husband and I share.
This is an exciting development in my parenting world.
I have to be honest, the whole ‘your child now has a social life’ thing took me by surprise somewhat. My son started school in September, met 26 new class mates and we lost 3 hours a weekend to soft play centres, community halls and pony parties. He really does have more in the diary than we do.
It’s really rather amusing, how you are just thrust into it. A couple of weekends ago I found myself holding hands with a snotty child, skipping into a circle to the chorus of the hokey cokey. I glanced round at the group of parents and children I barely knew, and smiled to myself.
Firstly, I should clarify, I am not the best in these scenarios, so I was smiling mainly at the fact that I was 1) there and 2) taking part.
Secondly, there I was on a precious Saturday afternoon making polite conversation with a parent whose name I don’t know and whose child I couldn’t point out to you in a line up. But I was there. We do it because we have to. Our children want to be there, they embrace these parties, excited to see the very children they spend all week at school with. They don’t care that they have known each other five minutes. They are just happy. So therefore so I am too. Most of the time!
Sorry, I digress. The point is, the weekend just gone saw my son invited to his friends 5th birthday party. Nothing out of the norm there. However, this party was at their home! Exciting on many levels. No bouncing castle to deal with, no soft play expected and of course, the chance to check out someone else house and compare lives.
Always a winner in my book.
We went. On mass. My husband, me and our son. We wouldn’t normally both attend a party. A tad keen if you ask me but this weekend we were both home and having spent little time together that week, we thought that we ‘might as well suffer together’. We arrive at the house. It’s a nice house. Bigger than ours and much more presentable. Mental note made, not to invite this particular friend over until we have extended, and in we went.
The house is immaculate. Shoes off on arrival. Not great as I had those stupid trainer socks on. They are wonderful when not visible inside a trainer, dreadful when on show with a pair of jeans. Something else I have learnt - wear nice socks to parties at home. You can tell I am an amateur at this!
Anyway, to cut to the chase, there was no pile of adult shoes, only kids shoes and there are no parents hovering awkwardly round the side of the living room. Rather the birthday boy's mother was on her knees arranging a game for the excited children around her.
“You can come back and get him later”, the father says to me over my shoulder.
Me, “What? Wow. Really?” A smile on my face too broad to be concealed.
I immediately looked to my husband who is already in animated conversation with the birthday boy's Uncle, then to my son who had already forgotten I existed as a game of pass the parcel has started. Problem is once you are in, the shoes are off and you have struck up conversation with a relative, it is slightly difficult to leave. However, as parents came and went, clearly briefed with the ‘drop and run’ situation I began to muster the courage to suggest that we too, should leave.
So I did.
The husband however, a gent to the end and honorary member of the family by now, stood firm. We cracked a couple of husband and wife jokes and I legged it. Promising to make good use of the 1.5 hour by putting the washing out.
I did just that. Popped the radio on, did some admin and had a hot cuppa. It was a hour of heaven. So much so that I nearly forgot to pick them up.
The moral of this story is this - if you receive a party invitation and it’s at a house, be prepared for a drop off. Obviously check first, I’m not suggesting you slow the car down to a crawl, push your child out and make a rapid getaway, but chat with the other parents, as they might know what the deal is. Although the slowing the car down and heading straight off may well be the next stage, if it is, I will let you know when we reach it! Oh and in just case, word to the wise make sure you wear good socks!