The path of parenting rarely runs smoothly, it is a winding, often bumpy lane, that can take you past scenes of beauty so intense if can take your breath away. Then you can climb a steep hill and suddenly descend into a countryside of madness.
Birthday parties are a road which all parents must turn onto at some point, no matter how steep the curve or undesirable the location.
I started my party drive, and kept it simple. No baptism of fire, no parallel parking, we threw a party at home for friends and family, bought a cake, blew up a couple of balloons and drank lots of wine. The kids slept through most of it and as I tidied away the empties I congratulated myself on successfully navigating through my first kiddies party.
As I drifted off into a slightly tipsy sleep, I found myself wondering why people made such a big deal out of hosting parties for their children and fell asleep beaming.
Last night, following the party of my nine-year old daughter, I fell asleep past midnight, with tissue in my ears and a half drank glass of Processes by my bed.
It felt like I had driven into a wall, so poor were my attempts at driving through this one.
The sleep she stocked up at her first birthday party, was clearly being banked for her ninth, as sleep was the furthest thing from her mind last night.
Why do they call it a sleepover, when no one sleeps!
Eleven little girls entered my home last night at five pm, they laughed at my idea of playing party games, they chuckled at my suggestion of musical bumps, and when I tried to get them to use up the now terribly unpopular store of loom bands I bought when they were the height of fashion; they actually belly laughed.
“Mum,” said my almost adult nine-year old girl, “we are just going to hang out, ok?”
Then with her eyes she added,
Serve the food, pour the drinks, and for the love of lord, don’t shame me any more.
So I cooked, served, tidied and distributed Capri Suns at the rate of knots, whilst they chatted, giggled, and put the world to rights. It was like watching grown women socialize, without the wine.
Then eight went home and four settled down for the night shift.
If one showed any sign of nodding off, the others would rally round, offering sugar as a drug of choice to keep them going. No amount of my ‘mother face’, ‘the look’, and eventually ‘my louder parenting voice’ made any difference. The party was still in full swing at midnight and I was knackered and ready to crash.
Around one am, the house fell silent, for a slender few hours until one woke, poked the other, and set the whole party up again. These girls are hardcore, they talked some more, watched some films, whilst I crept out of bed, threw a bag of brioche in their direction and returned to the comfort of my duvet to catch up on sleep.
This sleep came in handy later, when my nine-year old turned into a sleep deprived teen before my eyes and I needed all my slumber to keep my parental calmness.
I could have taken comfort in the fact that these parties come but once a year, that I have twelve months before it happens again.
But, it is a twin thing.
In two weeks, I get to do it all again, but with nine boys…. and they are all staying all night.
I am going to need more gin!