Yesterday was S’s 8th Birthday party.
A few weeks ago we’d asked her what sort of party she wanted (immediately shooting down the idea of having it at home). Multiple options were suggested by S. Some more outlandish than others. We eventually settled on the same format as last year; hire the sports hall up the road, book a children’s entertainer, feed them a selection of highly refined carbs and send them on their way after two hours. This seemed like a perfect solution. Except that a lot can change since last year’s party. Notably the mix of children in her new class has bought some new shiny, older faces. And bigger bodies.
The party prep was positive. We arrived at the venue and the room had been set up. Hell, they’d even opened up the bar. The Entertainer was struggling with his pop-up banner (I can so relate) but he had arrived ahead of schedule. I’d spent most of Friday night buttering two loaves of bread, filling with cheese, ham and tuna mayo. Sausage rolls, cold pizza slices and cheese/pineapple sticks were impaled on tinfoil covered grapefruit halves. Wotsits were decanted into paper bowls and mini rolls and doughnuts distributed as evenly as possible. Once all the food was spread out on the table which was meant to seat 30 children it looked like there wasn’t going to be anywhere near enough food. With 20 mins in hand T was sent off to whip up more sandwiches and raid Budgen’s for more crisps. I decided it was best if I ordered a large Boodles and tonic.
Whilst all of this was going on The Entertainer had started to get a sweat on. He tested ‘1,2,3’ more than ‘8,9,10’ times. The theme of the party was ‘Spookylicious’. He looked more ‘I’mhavingastrokeylicious’. My spider sense started to tingle.
By this time guests had started to arrive. Kids wielding plastic axes and scythes, fake blood pouring out of mock wounds seemed to be quite the norm. There were quite a few kids that I had never met before. The new kids on the block. Then a kid arrived who, from now on, shall be referred to as ‘YLS’ – You Little Shit. He was the ringleader, the trouble maker, the twisted firestarter. My wits were sharpened instantly.
The Entertainer put on his mask and things kicked off. Quite literally. Parents of the new kids on the block on the whole decided to take flight, the words ‘it’s a drop off, if you like’ were still hanging in the air before they were drowned out by the sound of screeching tires leaving the car park. The music was at the same sound levels of the Band Aid concert at Wembley. I told the Entertainer three times to turn it down but he couldn’t hear me. Really?
He basically couldn’t control the kids, the sound levels or his perspiration. Once his mask slid off his face to reveal an expression of ‘I wish I’d tried harder at my GCSE’s’. He was wracked with fear, desperation and exhaustion. It’s only the morning after that I can feel some sympathy for him.
In the meantime YLS was really going to town. I’ve never been to party or held a party where I’ve had to physically split up boys from fighting, remove whistles from mouths, remove a football from someone or felt like tasering a small person, until last night. He made some girls cry, he made some other boys upset and he made my ovaries shrink to the size of a pinprick. Of course, he knocked over a water jug soaking some kids and plenty of second batch sandwiches. Of course he (and pals) jumped on all the balloons, of course he never said please or thank you and of course he burst into tears when his Mum came to pick him up and hurry him away.
I think that S had a nice time. She seemed happy enough. Because we were mainly on Little Shits Alert we didn’t really see her. She came home with her arms filled with lovely presents from kind and generous parents, she ate cake and went to bed in tears crying that she didn’t want to get older.
I wanted the party to be a chance to hang on to childhood fancies – games, cake and dancing. Turns out the party was all that, along with a supporting cast of well behaved friends she’ll hang on to for many years. Next year it’ll be cinema and pizza with a couple of pals.
I think it might have been The Entertainers last gig. Wise.