The boy turned 4 on Saturday and once again we got away with not having a kids party. He didn’t ask, we didn’t push – I know when I’m onto a good thing.
The decision to not have a birthday bash can often be met with resistance.
‘Oh, what a shame’ certain quarters said, ‘he’d really enjoy it’. That may well be, but he also really enjoys poking his finger into the end of his willy, and at least that doesn’t need a Pinterest board, a tonne of cash and the constitution of the Iron Lady to facilitate.
Full credit to anyone who can be bothered, I salute you and your commitment to the mumming cause.
But should any of you be flirting with the idea of denying your kids the pleasure of running up and down an over-priced hall, here’s my top reasons to help you decide not to bother.
1. The Tightrope of Nutritional Nourishment
You may want to ‘do the right thing’ and not just smear pizza and wotsits onto your guests faces. But even the most stringent of food fascists will recognise that most kids think Quinoa is an animal and that giving them kale crisps will be met with the same reaction as giving the adults kangaroo testicles.
Cut your cucumber sticks if you must, but the closest they’ll come to being consumed is if someone sticks them in their nose/ears/bottom and absorbs the nutrients by osmosis.
Because what everyone really wants is….
2. The E Numbers of Doom
E-numbers in kids are like Ecstasy tablets in adults – all good to begin with. Best friendships will be forged within seconds, they’ll dance to any old rubbish and someone somewhere will be massaging cake into another kid’s hair.
But then someone craps their pants, someone else starts freaking out and before you know it you’ve emerged blinking into the sunlight with the mother of all come downs wondering WTF JUST HAPPENED?
3. The Fun Games of Futility
If you like want to get a sense of what it’s like trying to marshal a room full of children into playing the same game at the same time, try clearing up a garden full of leaves on a windy day using only your voice.
My especial favourite is watching a game of Pass the Parcel unfold. Kids are hard-wired not to pass the parcel. You may as well be watching twenty mini Gollums from Lord of the Rings wrestling with giving up their Preciousssssss, only replace the Howard Shore score with Black Lace.
And no, sticking a sweet in every wrapper does not overcome the disappointment of missing out on the one final toy to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.
4. The Birthday Cake of How Frigging Much?
If you, like me, are as tight as a gnat’s chuff, you probably object to paying loads of money for something that gets about one minute in the spotlight and then gets cut into indistinguishable pieces to be taken away and dumped the minute your guests get back to their kitchen bin.
Trouble is, I am also terrible at making cakes. I made one for the boy once – it was meant to be a Number 1 garnished with satsuma segments. It was only on completion I realised it looked like a cock & ball combo. It tasted like one too.
Also, note to all who do the cake thing anyway: a piece of napkin is not a adequate receptacle for taking cake home in. It’s like serving spaghetti bolognaise in a shoe.
5. The Fancy Dress of Can’t Be Faffed
Many birthday parties nowadays have a theme, with everyone INVITED! TO! COME! IN! OPTIONAL (NOT REALLY)! FANCY! DRESS! This is essentially giving parents the gift of additional admin.
Before even considering it, ask yourself if you’d be comfortable walking up to a mum you barely know at the school gates and asking her to do your tax return. The effect is the same.
6. The Gift List of Political Minefield
Good god, I suspect there may be more debate about this in households across the UK than there was about Brexit. Create a list, risk looking more grabby than one of those arcade claw games. Say no gifts, everyone thinks you’re a cruel witch. Or worse – a bit environmental. Say nothing, and risk a table full of tat to rival the school tombola.
The latter is the worst. When you consider your average kid can get more attached to an empty toilet roll tube than a human parent, there is no way you’ll be able to sneak that crap out of the house in the dead of night.
7. The Professional Entertainers of FFS
Children’s entertainers – the good ones at least – are like rockstars in these parts. I know women who have creamed their pants talking about how much control Mr Such & Such wielded over the audience at So & So’s party.
The main problem here (apart from the fee and the having to book whilst your kid’s still an embryo) is that they will become your child’s favourite person OF ALL TIME.
‘Hah Hah, that person blew up a balloon and it made a farting sound and now I want to live with them,’ they will say. And you will think ‘look you ungrateful little sod, I once turned my arsehole inside out to give birth to you, and as a result I now struggle to make ANY farting sounds, thank you very much’.
And that’s your thoughts. On their birthday. When you are trying to make everything all magical and that.
So I say save yourself the stress. Manipulate them into thinking they want ANYTHING other than a birthday party. Bribe them with cash if you have to.
As for what we DID do for the boy’s birthday?
Well if you must know there was a cereal bar with four candles in, a helping of jelly, Mary Poppins on the projector, a trip to the best damned Tapas restaurant in Manchester with his 6 year-old BFF and the chance to sleep in his cubby hole.
He flipping loved it.
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