Sunday, February 20, 2011
I WANT CAKE
I have been, in as many weeks, to as many birthday parties. The average age of the birthday boy or girl has been 5. Bar one, they have all been held at an indoor play centre, aka the surface of hell. One more, and I fear my soul will be completely destroyed.
And, eleven years in, I am probably what you would consider a veteran of the kid’s birthday party. I’ve seen it all. Rides in Limos, swims with dolphins, Bowling, Shop-a-thons, Reptile shows and of course, Hungry Jack meltdowns. Luckily, they go in cycles and in the not too distant future, I may very well be into my birthday party retirement.
Maddie, now 11, is blissfully old enough for me to drop and run. No matter what the occasion, I rarely need to stay and chat to the parents and/or get involved in the politicking at school. Unless they want to discuss her insanely good looking teacher. Then I might stay a few extra minutes.
She was however, the child I had to cut my teeth with at Birthday Parties.
The very first party she ever got invited to was to that of the little girl of the coolest couple at the kindy. I wanted desperately to be friends with them. She was a model, he was, well, I don’t know what he was, but he too was disgustingly good looking and they were the hipsters that while polite, were untouchable. Then came the invite to their house for their daughters party.
I turned up early. And first. Not knowing a soul. It’s pretty much how I left. First, early and not knowing a soul. Every time the hot models spoke to me it was like I had some weird speech impediment and could only respond with weird monosyllabic answers. Like “Dirt” or “Crud”. To be fair, it was a weird home party where no one really seemed to be speaking to each other much. The clown was fun though and I hung out with her.
I thanked our uber cool hosts when leaving and was strapping Maddie into her car seat when I felt a weird pain in my groin. And then on knee cap. I looked down to see I was standing on a giant green ants nest and those suckers had moved up my jeans faster than St Kilda AFL club scandal. My first instinct was to dack myself. I mean, they were biting me and they were in my undies. I looked around at the quiet street, saw it was all clear and ripped my jeans down. That’s when I heard this “Bern, you’ve forgott”. I turned around to see gorgeous father holding out a party bag. There I was, standing in my undies, ferreting around inside of them, jigging up and down quietly moaning. To his credit, he didn’t respond to the scene and simply handed me the bag and turned on his heel. There were no return requests for play dates.
On our second shot we fared a little better. In hindsight anyway. Oh, except for the bit where we gave the entire Kinder class of 2004 pinkeye. See, we were invited to a bowling party of a little girl in Maddies kindy class. Maddie was complaining about a sore eye. Said it felt like she had sand in it. Plausible, we had been to the beach that morning. Still, we decided to attend. She probably touched every single bowling ball that day. Right after rubbing the shit out of her eye. It was around about the third time that she came running over crying saying her eye wouldn’t stop hurting that another mother suggested she might have conjunctivitis. We stayed for cake (which, by the way, I, as a parent, ALWAYS have a slice of regardless of the death stares from the other mothers) and went straight to the doctors. Bingo. Conjunctivitis. Highly contagious. Freaking A. By week’s end, half the class were missing due to a case of Pink Eye. Funnily enough, we are fantastic friends with that girls’ parents today. It’s funny where you will meet them, but often it’s not obvious at the time.
But you truly can’t rate yourself as a parent until you’ve had to endure a play centre birthday party. Now you might have attended these play centres so you can catch up with your girlfriends and a mild case of giardia, but until you’ve sat through the two hours of small talk with the other mums and dads and occasional soul sucking disco dance, you haven’t really done it right. Today was no exception. Not only was the committee member mother from hell there, I also had to rescue kids from the Shark shaped jumping castle (complete with gigantic scary as shit teeth) as it collapsed. Every parent’s worst nightmare. Fortunately the play centres operators didn’t seem to be too stressed and simply plugged the power cord back into the powerboard. Um, I’m sorry; WTF is it doing accessible to young kids in the first place??
Once that drama was complete, there was the obligatory head clash. Can I just let you know now, your child will cry at least once during the play centre birthday experience. Whether it be from falling off the stage when the party hosts blow bubbles just off the edge of the stage so all the kids go nuts and fall to their fates below, or simply because the big kids let a giant medicine ball loose from a ramp to mow down your poor unsuspecting child below. There will be tears. And at least one child will have to be rescued by their parent from tunnel 6 stories up. Heads up, do not wear a dress.
It appears I will be repeating todays scenario at least up until Jack is 8. Let me count that on my hands, shit, 4 more years? I don't think my stress levels can take it. One way to change that is to have the kid with perpetual pink eye though? Up there for thinking Bern.