It’s not my son’s birthday this weekend. No leap day means no birthday. But that hardly seems fair, especially when you are 6/1. So we will pretend.
The main focus of your birthday when you are about to be 6, as you will recall I’m sure from your own childhood, is the party. Most children harbour a desire to be centre of attention, which in this house is no mean feat. So a great deal of time is spent carefully selecting the party type in full knowledge that it’ll be a long time until your moment in the limelight comes round again. (And in my son’s case, an extremely long time!) Party negotiations with the girls begin at least six months before the actual event and there is a great deal of swerving and manoeuvring on my part and compromising on theirs before we reach a solution that pleases all.
With my son it’s a slightly different ball game. He is a quirky child. He has been heavily influenced by living with three sisters and a girly mum. He doesn’t do sport, Ben 10 and other boy orientated merchandise leave him cold and he’s too little to have a pool party.
What he lacks in testosterone, however, he makes up for in imagination. First he wanted a Cat Flap Cats party based loosely on a book he is reading, then something to do with a particularly fluffy Pokemon that had caught his eye. The ideas, becoming less practical by the day, came pouring out of him until I entirely lost track of any point of reference that he might have.
In the end he decided he wanted a party at home with games. I took a very deep breath and said yes as long as the numbers were less that 12, this being the number of bottoms that my dining table can seat.
Kids parties at home are a rare thing these days. There are so many attractive alternatives available. But we have the space as long as I do a bit of reorganising. And the children are 5 and 6 so their tastes are relatively unsophisticated and they are still happy to take direction without question.
Expectations are high however. If you play Pass the Parcel there has to be a sweet in each layer to prevent howls of disappointment. In fact, sweets have to be liberally sloshed about to avoid revolution. And the key to success is to keep them busy so no one gets distracted and either wanders off for an explore upstairs or suggests that they might be bored which would infect the others faster than you can say Jack Robinson.
So the party will be nice and short. Lots of games played in remarkably quick succession. All children actively engaged to avoid discontentment and a large gin and tonic ready for when they have all left. I will take lots of pictures to remind my son of his idyllic childhood when he is older and hope that he doesn’t cry at any point. Wish me luck!