We’ve gone to quite a few kid’s parties in the past, but when primary school starts it really ramps up a notch and, particularly when you have more than one child, you can find that your weekends soon revolve around celebrating other kids’ birthdays.
We’re not quite at the drop and run age yet; so it does mean that a birthday party invite means I’m committed for the whole two hours.
(And it’s always I, I don’t know why my husband gets a free pass, but apparently that’s the way it goes).
In a few years, I will probably look forward to such parties as an excuse to have a wild afternoon of childfree shopping or cleaning, but in the meantime that time is booked out.
Now please, don’t assume you know what the rest of this is going to say.
Despite the noise, the pressure and cost buying of presents that are probably neither needed nor wanted (that’s a whole different post right there) and the six post-party hours spent supervising a demon child on a crazy sugar comedown, it might shock you to learn that I actually don’t mind the parties themselves.
As long as I don’t have to get too involved, I do quite enjoy an opportunity to sit with a cup of tea (or prosecco, not fussy) and chat to other parents who I might otherwise only manage a little nod to in passing outside the school gates.
I also love watching the look of sheer excitement on my children’s faces as they join their friends and throw themselves into having fun.
It just makes me a bit jealous, because let’s face it – when you’re a kid, parties are about as good as life ever gets.
I still remember the crushing disappointment of being ill, and not being able to attend my school Christmas party. That is probably something I’ll never get over. The unfairness of being too poorly to put on my glittery shoes and ridiculous 80s party dress, and go and play pass the parcel with my schoolmates; that is the kind of stuff that sticks with you for life.
Bring it forward 25, 30 years to now, and rather than boundless excitement, an invite to a birthday party usually sees me scrabbling for an excuse to stay at home instead, rather than sip wine in a corner trying not to make eye contact with people I don’t know, or chug cocktails in the middle of the dancefloor and wake up with a banging hangover.
Adults do not party like kids.
Somewhere along the way, we lose the innocence of youth that allows us to let go and enjoy ourselves so completely (and soberly) and it’s a shame. If I were to rock up to a friend’s wedding in a huge, sparkly frock, then spend hours running around laughing, before dancing like a mad person until I abruptly passed out then I’d probably be escorted to my room and wake up with huge regrets.
They may well say dance like no-one’s watching, but we all know damn well that people are watching, and those people have cameras on their phones and access to social media, so we don’t.
And so when I watch my daughter getting stuck in, grinning, dancing and jumping with her school friends, shouting along with the entertainer without any inhibitions and being entirely fooled by the magic with the biggest smile on her face, diving into the cake without worrying about what it will do to the size of her bum and in raptures over two quid’s worth of plastic tat in the party bag, I know that in that moment she is living her absolute best life.
It’s aaaall downhill from here, kid.
That’s a bit sad, isn’t it?