KIDS PARTIES

Reflecting on the subtle changes over forty years of baby bingeing…

Being of a certain age my role as father to a five year old doesn’t quite fit the demographic. Ok, the demographic would probably put me at somewhere between a third and a half of where I really am.

Birthday-Kids

So attending kids parties isn’t quite what it used to be. When my sweet daughter was five we would have gone along to someone’s house, pinch a Hula Hoop or two, or a jam sandwich, and watch those little types playing pass the parcel to the strains of Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep. Rapidly followed by dead lions to shut them up for a while, and stop them picking their noses in public, and then musical chairs to broken up sections of Knock Three Times on a faded cassette machine – where every child was insulted by being disqualified, and burst into tears. Then tea – Swiss roll and more jam sandwiches, and sent home with a party bag containing a couple of flying saucers and an I-Spy book.

And the adults? We had to be satisfied with a cup of tea and a smile from that cute blonde you’d seen on the school run.

Not anymore. After my forty three year gap I am back on the circuit. Now it’s cool parents setting the bar pretty high with gourmet teas, magicians, super-heroes, balloon modellers, maybe Father Christmas if the season is approximately right, and goody bags that can equal the sort of stuff Madonna might come home with after an evening at the Oscars.

I was at one of these affairs on Saturday, under the kindly direction of a mum who happened to own a field. When we got there the place was rocking, with a bloke called Captain Fantastic (or Captain All Right as I would have placed him) keeping the kids to fever pitch for the whole duration of the party. And the adults? We all stood around pinching smoked salmon sandwiches, and drinking a delightful Prosecco. That beat the hell out of my seventies cup of tea I can tell you. So I had another. Conversation was brisk, settling mainly on the Western Barbecue we had all organised the week before, and knocked out by the whopping seventeen hundred quid we had raised for the PTA. Captain OK stamped all over our idyll by announcing that everybody had to join in the Hokey Cokey. Laugh? I thought I’d never start…

It was all great though, and bore very little resemblance to those halcyon days when my daughter thought she’d had a great time as I bundled her into the plastic seat of whatever hellish car I was driving at the time, preparing to play I-Spy at the Seaside as we drove through the quiet Pinner streets.

Aaaaaah… It’s better now, even though the cute blonde from the school run doesn’t seem to notice me any more…

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