Tonight, my little boy announced he wanted to go to bed in undies.
This was a milestone moment for him, and if I was organised enough to have a baby book (hmmm, pondering that thought, I actually think I might have 2, but they are sadly bereft of entries… I think there is one un-dated lock of hair randomly inserted into one of them), I would no doubt be writing the appropriate entry in his book.
So instead, I’m letting you know.
You see, a couple of days ago, Thomas turned 4. This was also a grand moment for Dougall and I, as it plunged us into the world of children’s parties for the first time. I hasten to add here that that doesn’t mean we’ve never celebrated it – it’s just that up until ‘4’, his birthdays revolved around us, not him. eg. “Congratulations to us! We’ve made it to 1!” then ‘2!’, then ‘3!’, up until now.
But when he began asking about his forthcoming party months ago, I realised we were going to have to bite the bullet, and focus entirely on his wants for a day. Oh. My. God.
Trying to strike a chord of nonchalance, I mentioned this to some friends – “Heeeeey, Thomas’ birthday is coming up… I think we are going to have a party”. I unintentionally ended with an upward lilt in my voice, so it came out like a question, with an edge of hysteria. Before I knew it, I heard these magic words from one – “Would you like to do a combined party?” Our children, born only weeks apart, were both clearly expecting something, and there’s nothing like a bit of strength in numbers. My relief, was immense (I should add here my partner in crime is a very organised person. Loves a list. She’s also a great food tech. teacher, which is fantastic in terms of catering).
Nonetheless, this was new, unchartered territory. Living in the country brings space, but also perhaps more isolation in terms of playtimes and party invitations. Put simply – Thomas’ party calendar has, compared to many town or city dwellers, been rather bare. So I really don’t know how he knew he wanted a pirate theme, but some
things must be innate (for girls and boys, as it was also Ruby’s choice!). Conversely, the fact that we have space also makes it ideal for hosting a party, so before we knew it we were off, thrust back into a world we had all left behind a long time ago: sack races; pin the eye patch on the pirate; pass the parcel; mandarin and spoon race (yes, I know they were supposed to be eggs, but who wants to pick up squashed egg?!); treasure hunt; musical chairs, etc.
Here are some tips:
- It’s not a good idea to try and roll out and dress homemade pizza dough at the same time as cooking dinner for 6, managing bedtime, nursing babies, unless you have incredible bench space, and 6 arms… [pause]… Make that 8.
- No matter what you do, someone will cry at the party.
- Always have a wet weather plan.
- Don’t decorate the cake on the morning of the party, as the icing needs time to set in case you have to take it on an unexpected bouncy journey.
If you’ve been paying attention you may well be wondering why my pirate ship cake had to go on a journey, when the party was coming to us? (which sadly looked like a ship wreck after our pothole ridden road).
Unfortunately Dougall and I have a raindance we unknowingly perform in the lead-up to any big event we host. Having a drought? Get us to plan a party.
It happened with our wedding (that marquis in the back garden will never be white again. Thankfully we had our cunning emergency-emergency-we’ll- never-need-it backup plan of the local hall up our sleeve. That’s one way to have a memorable wedding – just ring your guests early on the day of your wedding to ask for help packing the tables you set the day before, take them somewhere else, and unpack them all over again. It’s so much fun…) any comments here are welcome. Then get your celebrant to catch alight.
And it also happened with Archie’s 4th birthday party… (not the celebrant bit).
It rained. And stopped. And rained. And stopped. Agh, what to do?? So texting all 40 imminent attendees, into the car we all piled, off to the backup plan again – the good ol’ local hall.
What I would like to know is – if you don’t have access to your local hall or a community space of some kind, what do you do? Go to Kindie Gym? Book a room at McDonalds (never say never)? Turn pirates into fairies and have a last minute fairy party instead at the local fairy shop? Cancel? WHAT DO YOU DO?
Thank goodness I’ll never need to know first hand. One of the wonderful perks of living in the country is our access to private, and public, space. That, and knowing who to ring to get it.
So with minutes to spare, we found ourselves in the supper room kitchen with masses of bench space, a huge room to do pirate-y stuff in, somewhere to hang our balloons, and access to large amounts of grassland outside (what’s a little mud amongst friends?) for when the sun came out.
Which it did, as soon as the party started. Of course.
And in case you’re all wondering, operation ‘nightime undies’ has been a success.
Bring on Birthday #21. I’ll be ready (might take that long to recover).