I spent my childhood loathing what is generally the most loved time in a child’s life. The Birthday Party. In fact I don’t think I started liking parties untill there was alcohol involved I was much, much older.
I beyond disliked them, I feared them, dreaded them and wished that they would disappear completely. From the moment of handing out of invitations in the classroom (will I / won’t I get one?), to the buying of the present, which was always something that I wanted, usually quite desperately, like childs nail polish, or a china picnic set, and my ever caring mother decided would be the perfect thing for me to watch her buy and then give to another child.
Then came the day of the party, ooh that day. Would I be on time? ( I knew i would if Mum drove me, if my Father did I would be late and have to do the child version of the walk of shame, the long and lonely wander up the concrete driveway to the front door ON MY OWN knowing that I was committing the worst sin possible RUNNING LATE for something someone else had organised), then came the games.
Party games were the bain of my existence, and probably ever y parent who very kindly invited me to their child’s party. See I never enjoyed competition, or looking silly, or doing things I couldn’t do well. In pass the parcel i worried i did not pass the parcel fast enough, in pin the tail on the donkey I got scared of the dark, and then the most evil game of all…the chocolate race.
Yes, please, I want to be part of a TEAM, and throw on some dress up clothes, race to the other end of the room and try to cut a piece of chocolate off a block with a knife and fork, then race back to my totally disappointed teammates (because by the time I cut the bloody chocolate four or five other children on the opposing team had run).
Many a parent soothed my sudden hysterical tears at not wanting to participate in games, many a parent called my mother at 2am when i couldn’t sleep because of homesickness, many a parent hugged me and told me it was all ok.
I love all of you for making a very abnormal feeling child feel ok (for crying out loud it was just making our own pizza – why would that make me cry?)
My birthdays were the same if not worse – i felt obligated to have parties as my mother loved them, loved making elaborate plans and cakes, and I always ended up practicing how to hide at the end of the lines in games so as not to mess them up, or getting myself allocated to the volume knob for pass the parcel.
When it came to my kids I wanted to keep things simple. We have had many picnics and loved them. A couple of sleepover s for my daughter and they are easy and she loves them. This year was a big one. My son (who usually misses out on parties as his birthday is at the end of the summer holidays) had a spooky party and for the first time, I actually enjoyed a childs party, didn’t feel the usual pressure to get everything right. My daughter is having a holiday in Sydney as she is turning ten, and hey, we need a holiday, plus her best friend to stay over for a DVD when she gets back.
I hope that from here it just gets easier. That my childhood traumas of PARTY will fade, that I’ll be able to accept that if you provide kids with food, pass the parcel, a chance to act silly and even a beach occasionally they are happy and have fun. That all the structure that the parties of my childhood had wasn’t really necessary, and now having written it out of my system, I truly hope i will move on.
Point of note :- Many kudos though to Hannah’s Mum and Uncle on her 11th birthday party had blue caramel popcorn and her Uncle playing very cool music on his guitar and all of us on our chairs dancing (me in a black and white striped bubble skirt and white polo shirt ;) ) and to Kate’s Mum who had a sleepover Halloween birthday and dressed up as the most brilliant witch in the backyard for us to watch. Oh and Jenny’s Mum every time i slept over for the immense comfort you gave me.
Oh and the title quote comes from “Black Books”