Where has Aims gone? She’s been gone ages. The awkward silence is now deafening, but I smile politely at the stranger I’m having the rapidly drying out conversation with.
A feral looking child runs past, covered in chocolate. I want chocolate. Would it be wrong if I ask a stranger to hold this baby so I can go eat chocolate? Is the chocolate even for the adults?! Best leave it, I don’t want to look like a dick.
“What do you do for work?” He asks.
Really?! We’re still doing this? “I work in an office” I reply. This is Aims’ fault for leaving me, I’ll get her back for this.
“Nice” he replies with a fading attempt at false enthusiasm. He gets it. Maybe under different circumstances we could have been friends.
“Ok everyone, can you all come in to sing happy birthday” a stressed looking parent calls into the garden. Kill me now. I’m missing the football for this.
These are my weekends now.
Now before I crack on, I just want to point out that this isn’t aimed at anyone in particular, especially as I’ve found myself at a fair few of these ‘events’ lately. This is more of a generalisation of my experiences so far, coupled with the borderline ridiculousness of it all. If you saw me at your kids party recently, trust me I had a magical time, thanks again for the invite.
Right then, that’s the disclaimer out of the way, so back to business. Kids parties are stupid and unnecessary. Sometimes awkward, often boring, groups of acquintences gather together to have broken, sober conversations about how tired they are, all whilst running around after a sugar crazed toddler who seems intent on breaking the most expensive thing in the hosts conservatory. After the initial greeting, and a momentary mingle, pockets of Dads begin to form in a sea of clucking mothers that are now beginning to merge into one cognitive mind. Sometimes I’m with friends, other times I’m in the +1 brigade with other people’s partners, either way it’s at this point we start to begin to wish we were tradesmen just so we could say we’re working on a Saturday. This is the social scene I now find myself on, and it’s here to stay until I stop having kids.
Back when I was a young pup, children’s parties weren’t really a thing, and certainly not what they are today it seems. If you were lucky, you could invite 10 friends to spend a couple of hours in the local branch of McDonalds to celebrate your 6th birthday, during which time, you could even choose two people to take behind the counter for a look at frozen nuggets in the walk in freezer (it sounds shit, but it was probably THE highlight of my 7th year on earth).Look at young Den (furthest right) having the time of his life.
Then for my 11th birthday, I got to take six friends to the nearest bowling alley, which was about 40 miles away at the time. My Dad let us swear in the car, which made me the most popular kid in school for a few days. We played and laughed and gorged ourselves on sugar, with the sickly kid predictably getting ill during the car ride home.
And that was my lot. Two modest events they I enjoyed immensely at the time and didn’t really cost a great deal of money to arrange. Job done, happy childhood complete. But sadly, things change. The branch of McDonalds I enjoyed my party at is now a pound shop (just like everything else on our high street) and you’re never further than 2 miles away from a bowling alley – and let’s face it, who gives a shit about bowling anymore anyway? Those facts aside, it’s a different world now, and parents demand more for their little poppets. A suggestion that we were having a party at McDonalds would probably lead to people sneering behind our backs or spitting at us in the street.
Despite the themes, the cakes and decorations, children’s parties have very little to do with the actual child in some cases – it’s become more of a chance for parents to show off. Who’s cupcakes look the closest to the picture on Pinterest? Who’s ordered the bounciest castle? An annual pissing contest that plays out like an Instagram account where you only show everyone the good bits. Don’t get me wrong, my eyes are open and I can see the stupid, but I’m also very much involved in pandering to the madness. Faiths 3rd birthday is coming up in June, and planning for her event started months ago. We even started a dedicated savings account just to make paying for everything more manageable. I want Faith to have the best birthday ever (again), but let’s be honest, she’s not that bothered either way. She gets excited about having a shower, and has the time of her life daily in any situation. That aside, she probably won’t remember any of it in later life anyway! But following on from last year’s event, it has to be bigger and it has to be better!!
And that’s the other thing, none of this is a one off – it’s every year. Every. Single. Year. Once you’re on the circuit, it’s impossible to get off because you want parents to attend your shindig. So the vicious circle goes on, but what makes matters worse is that Aims knows a lot of people with babies *sigh*.
One saving grace is we don’t have to bother with a party for poor little baby Dahlia. As much as I love her, she’s a January baby, and no one wants a party in January. At least that’s my stance on the matter now, but that’ll probably change to all my friends and family rolling their eyes at another party invite.