Honest Motherhood: The gift and curse of children’s birthday parties

We’re coming to the end of September and I’m glad to have found a sort of rhythm to each week now. With all Maia’s extra-curricular additions, our weeks are rather full. Colourful, yet full. And they’re not getting any lighter.

As well as the start of the school year, this month also marks the beginning of a slow but steady flurry of children’s birthday parties. You really have no choice but to embrace them. Maia’s had three so far in September alone.

The first was a joyful “feel free to leave your child here” situation, where I took full advantage and dashed to the gym. It was wonderful.

The second involved a highly interactive entertainer who based his act around mocking the parents. Everything from insulting people’s clothes to reprimanding me for looking in my bag. “What are you looking for? Do you have chocolate in there?” “Yes…”. (I keep an emergency Lindt or Cadbury’s bar in there at all times.).

I hate to admit that his insults and intrusiveness worked, the kids loved him. No one was safe, even an attempt to escape to the toilet was called out. When I returned, I was asked what colour the soap was. I knew the answer but buckled under the pressure and hesitated somewhat “Er… PINK?!”.

This was the first party I’d dragged my boyfriend to and he seemed to be the entertainer’s favourite target. Ten minutes in and he’s making the man tea and holding doors open. He coped well, it was taken in good cheer and we all had a good laugh. Then as we were leaving things got even more animated. Mr Funny came over, with everyone watching, and hugged him goodbye, then just sort of stayed put, holding him in the embrace, for what felt like far longer than it actually was. He was shameless, I’ll give him that. There was a definite air of stand-up comedian to his performance, and we all left in high spirits.

Her third and final party of the month was one of those dreamy old school parties, with all the traditional party games, and the music to match. ABBA, Spice Girls, I had a blast. As did Maia.

Yes, children’s parties are a faff, but I like to think they’re worth the effort. It’s not fun having to re-jig your weekend to fit a party in, often at some inconvenient time bang in the middle of your Saturday, or cutting into what would have been a lazy Sunday morning. Nor is it easy choosing a gift for a child you most likely don’t even know. (I quite often found myself in Argos after work, frantically flicking through their gloriously dense catalogue in a desperate attempt to find something decent that pleases both parent and child. Now I opt for something creative, like a canvas and paints or scrapbooking materials).

But we all know why we do it. We do it for our cheeky monkeys, because we can’t have them missing all the fun. We do it for the love and the laughter. We do it because our little darling will never be six years old again, going to her friends’ birthday parties, and needing us to take her there. And because deep down we know we’d do anything for our tiny humans. Including getting up early on a Sunday morning to be ridiculed by Fred in the Shed.



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