So yesterday I held the ninth birthday party of my third child, which for the record means it was the 39th time I was staging some kind of birthday celebration, and by now, you’d think I must be somewhat of a pro at this. (Snorts)
But it’s been a very rough month in a very rough year in a fairly rough life and I was feeling, to use a theological term, ‘fucking awful’. (Credit to Annie Lamott for that little gem)
So I sent an invitation on Monday via whatsapp for Friday. And what ensued was one of those tiny miracles whereby everything went off quite passably with the help of my two gorgeous older boys. Broken bicycle notwithstanding.
My older two had half term so they walked to my youngest’s school and then walked a motley crew of 12 third and fourth graders home. This involved taking on pretty much all their school bags half-way home, which are heavier than you could possibly believe (are these kids carrying dictionaries to school?), and consequently they arrived looking fairly heated and laden like pack donkeys. I arrived home from work just 4 minutes before they did, in time to delegate the assembly of the cake to my daughter, to take a wee, and to gather some juice and cups (yes those two things shouldn't be in the same sentence, sorry). My saintly boys had already carried chips and sweets (something more substantial since they’re just back from school? I hear you ask. No. sorry, just no.) down to the pool and bless their cotton socks, the gardeners had mowed!
I then plonked myself down to make sure no-one drowned. All seemed in order but then there was the small matter of helping my child come to terms with the fact that out of the 14 kids, only one had brought a gift and 2 had brought money (WTF?). Slightly put out, he then had to cope with getting hit on the head with a very chunky tennis bat (accidental) and a bunch of kids wandering off from the pool, finding his bike and managing to break the pedal and the seat within the space of 10 minutes.
Again my oldest saved the day by producing (unasked for) a pass-the-parcel gift! He also quickly downloaded an upbeat song onto Mother’s sadly-lacking phone. Bombs away! here we go! The kids were fairly tolerant when I halted the game half way for a phone call. On we played; what I wondered curiously had my child wrapped up? Since I obviously wasn’t prepared enough to buy party prizes. 2nd in charge, came to give me a heads up – there’s an Oreo box inside, mom, but that’s not the prize, the prize is inside. Super. Soon the last wrapper came off producing… an Oreo box with 10 bucks sellotaped on. Cool. But I’ve been told there’s something in the box… Take the R10! I yell, there’s another round for something inside – the children’s eyes light up… Bam, the music stops, what’s inside? Half an already opened pack of Oreos. Oops… I guess the 10 bucks and the box was the jackpot. Never mind! I yell, to the surprised little girl, you can share them with everybody! My youngest pipes up quietly, somewhat put out – those were my Oreos, I was saving them! Never mind! mommy will buy you more.
A short, sequestered conversation about pulling your attitude right ensues, (no gifts, tennis bat, bicycle and now Oreos, but pull it together, you're nine now!) then it’s more swimming, no we won’t have a present opening session my sweet, cause it’s 2 notes of money and a pair of flip-flops. Cake! Let’s have cake! Candles are lit with the usual pre-requisite impossible lighting of candles, and then no sooner had 14 slices of hand-baked-the-night-before-by-the-sweat-of-my-brow, cake been handed out, than said-cake was flying through the air in a spontaneous food fight. God help me to smile and not beat the shit out of these little kids.
Finally the parents arrive and even the kids who have yet again arrived with absolutely no plans to get home, have been foisted onto another parent to deliver. Now that it’s all died down, my son seems to have recovered his composure and is playing happily with the last 2 playmates. Cheers and thanks for coming, party-packs? Don't make me laugh!
Another birthday party under my belt. Managed with a half pack of oreos, R10 bucks and little help from my family. That's when you know you've really arrived!