Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Another party

We have to come back from Pretty Land. We have to spend the afternoon at Play Park. This, apparently, is another celebration for the children's seventh birthday last week. Strange. I thought we'd already had a couple of parties and three birthday cakes, but I'm told none of those were Proper Parties. Admitedly Tiger spent most of one party in the toilet waiting to throw up, and the first party seemed mostly to be about mother opening several bottles of wine but, as I argued, it's my celebration too, mostly of the fact that I've survived this long without dying, leaving home, or selling the lot of them for medical experiments.

We tried to get round the problem of the endless birthday celebration seven years ago. We reckoned that with triplets each child would want their own birthday instead of having to share it. So we nicked the Naming day celebrations from the French. Shark was given her own naming day in December; Tiger got August and Squirrel got May. Then each could share their annual birthday and have a separate party come Naming day time.

This seemed to work quite well for the first few years. All the family celebrations were spread out throughout the year and there was always something to look forward to.

Trouble started a couple of years ago. Everyone wanted to swap celebrations. Then because everyone had swapped I forgot whose celebration was when. I had days of grief from Squirrel for forgetting about hers and, when I finally remembered, fobbed her off with a walk in the woods and a packet of ginger nuts at the Woodland Cafe, sadly located in the car park. She's not forgiven me so far.

The other thing that no longer works is our insistence that birthdays are family events. In the past we tried to position the Naming day celebrations as events and outings with friends, and the birthday as a family event. At birthday time, we got The Hat round, sang 'Happy Birthday', then blew out the candles and that was that. This definitely no longer works.

All the kids have witnessed, and even attended, The Birthday Party Package. This seems to be fairly standard. An hour on the play equipment/ donkey/ computer-controlled dodgems, then up to the Birthday Party Room for Birthday Party Food. This involves napkins with the company logo and balloons with the company logo. The napkins go on the floor. Then there are a lot of howls, screams and tears when the balloons pop. Next, out comes the chicken nuggets and chips and bring your own cake. If the happy parents have paid the extra tenner, some bloke dressed as a penguin enters and leads the little songsters in 'Happy Birthday' before trying to exit sharpish without setting his costume on fire, knocking over the cake, tripping over balloon string or treading on the toddler clinging to his leg.

Not surprisingly, we've avoided the Party Package. But to Shark, Tiger and Squirrel it says 'I am a Proper Birthday Party and anything else, including a packet of ginger nuts at the Woodland Cafe, is not.' So Shark, Tiger and Squirrel want a Proper Party. And, quite frankly, I'm not providing one. A hundred quid for a miserable experience and a bloke dressed as a penguin sounds like torture.

Thus I've been led into a phenomenon that I now call the Rolling Birthday. Basically, this is in lieu of a Proper Birthday Party and consists of a week or two of constant demands for celebrations, parties, events, and cakes, none of which are Proper Parties. So far they've had celebrations such as take away pizza, mother going to bed early, family friends round, two birthday cakes, and a song at the art and play session. This week the celebration is at the Play Park, without the Party Birthday Package, and tomorrow Squirrel's little chum from ballet is coming round for tea. And that's it. I won't be cajoled into any more. I declare the birthday season over. And it's my reward to open a bottle of wine to celebrate the fact.


Michelle said...

Those overpriced kids birthday packages are awful aren't they? A couple of days ago Clo very seriously wanted to talk to me as although she knows it's a long way away, she's decided she doesn't want birthday parties at home any more. "It was ok when I was little but now I'm too old for a birthday at home any more". Last year she did get her desire (having attended these things when it was her friends' birthdays) and had the indoor play venue organised bash (I had a migraine from just the thought of it and so couldn't attend!).

As we will again be away for her birthday this year, for ease of getting it over and done with, we'll probably oblige again. But I'm sad. I liked the at-home parties. :-(

Elibee said...

I tried to put together a non commercial party type thing, climbing wall and then up the road to the Italian restaurant where the children could have pizza and the parents could have a decent coffee. But, out comes giant unbooked nightmare mouse clutching balloons. One of the older boys hit it over the head with the platter the pizza came on and one little girl dived under the table screaming only to find i was already there. You can't win!

Michelle said...

E - That's just too funny!

If the kids didn't do so much socialising they wouldn't have any friends and this wouldn't be an issue. That's the main problem. They've got friends.