So the summer party season is in full swing. The children’s party season that is. Vince has settled in really well at school, making a lot of new friends and getting on really well with them and his teachers. A consequence of which is that we get invited to every single party on the calendar, boys and girls - more on which later, so barely a weekend goes by without a race to get a present and a card. The card is trickier than it should be because some of the kids in his class are turning five, not being five already so I tend to go for a generic, boy/girl birthday card rather than a specific number based one.
Presents are even harder. Our average spend is about £10 because I don’t know how well or not Vincent likes them. Boys presents are easier because, well guess. I usually go for something constructive like Lego for them to use, because everybody likes Lego, but also if they are really REALLY into Transformers, I would not like to bring them either a) Ninja Turtles or other toy that they aren’t collecting or b) one they have already got.
Girls are harder to buy for. I resent the implication that they will be interested in dolls or anything else pink but there is a hugely limited choice. Books mark you out as some kind of weirdo or grand parent so I’ve been appealing to their creative side and getting some arts and crafty things like DIY Jewellery or sparkle stuff.
Boys parties are straightforward and less taxing for the parent. They are at a soft play place or room and the kids just go off and go nuts, running around, laughing, screaming or playing tag. Parents get the chance to sit down, relax a little from watching their child intently and catch up with one another before meal time. A selection of crisps, cakes, chocolate, sausage rolls, sandwiches and juice comes along before the presentation of the main cake and the singing of ‘Happy Birthday’.
Girls parties are a little more intricate. Because Vince is popular and friendly, he gets to go to virtually all of these, which his mates don’t for several reasons. Girl’s parties are like disco’s and haven’t changed in the intervening 30 years since I used to go to them. The girls stand in small groups performing increasingly elaborate dance steps and moves while the boys sit around the outside of the room fiddling with their pants or moaning about being hungry. I’ve noticed it’s exactly the same for the parents too. Some games are played and Vince is chased around by some of the girls until the food comes out, usually daintier and fancier than the boys parties, and the cake.
They are a really good chance to meet other parents. Vince is famous because he came from America where they call ‘lifts’ ‘elevators’ and put ‘gas’ in cars instead of ‘petrol’, so I enjoy recognition by association although I think they are all slightly disappointed that he doesn’t talk more like Mike TeeVee from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
I am really looking forward to another party next month though. Stacey will get to come along and meet the other parents for the first time and they have also selected the best venue possible for it - a pub. A wonderful place where the kids can see just how different their parents are. The mums sitting or standing around in small groups, talking together, laughing, being sociable and even dancing. The dad’s sitting around, staring into their pints, mumbling to each other, checking their watches or eyes glued to Sky Sports if there’s a screen in the vicinity. Girls grow up, boys just get bigger.