Who doesn’t love a birthday?
Particularly your child’s birthday. A celebration of the day you endured pain, nothing short of the sort of medieval torture one might see on Horrible Histories. That beautiful time of the year that appears annually and robs you of a couple of hundred quid, your peace, time and a triangle of hair around each temple (thus also robbing you of the simple ponytail until it’s recovered).
The run up to which includes sourcing their greatest toy desires, organising a party, writing and handing out invitations, literally feeling your blood pressure rising as you hand over your debit card over and over again. Collating responses to said party invites, wrapping gifts, attempting to write memory-making words in a card that you must, must, fucking must remember to add to the sparse memory box you keep forgetting to add to.
You must confirm numbers, buy cakes, one for school and one for the party, pat yourself literally on the back for firing off the job of party bags to the venue; thus you cannot be held accountable for. Buy new outfits for the birth-day, the actual party plus siblings, guilt all available family members into helping then ship everything required to the venue whilst still exhausted from getting up at 5:45am and coercing birthday child back into bed several times until the will to live appears a dim and distant memory.
Then clear up expensive paper, painstakingly applied to stupidly expensive shit they’ll only toss round the house; potentially chipping and/or scratching furniture, up off the floor whilst inwardly groaning at one’s growing carbon footprint. Kow-towing to cries for a ‘fun’ breakfast then apologising wholeheartedly to the nursery staff who must then contain a 4 year old experiencing an early sugar rush combined with ‘it’s my bloody birthday-itis’.
You must remember EVERYTHING. All the stuff; you know the stuff that must be remembered on such a day…updating social media, bringing the tangle teaser (single-most important thing after the humble ‘wipe’), additional shoes (they don’t match, but fuck it, at this point you don’t give even a tiny shit) and the phone charger; lest you shouldn’t have full charge for all the pictures.
At this point you must greet each parent and child, take leave of a gift; unless in my case the birthday girl has already wrestled it out of a surprised parent’s hands, ripped a few strips off the wrapping then got bored and tossed it in the opposite direction. You must watch all the children, calm any in-fighting, observe who goes in and out of the toilets, ensure everyone has their share of the party food, keep plastic cups topped up with squash and prevent any flame/hair related incident during the big sing-off.
Finally you must find everyone’s shoes and coats and say goodbye nicely whilst smoothing down frizzy yet vaguely sweaty hair (mine) and dolling out party bags and squashed slices of cheap cake. After this it’s round up your own consignment of owned children; all their stuff including a huge pile of gifts all half opened and slightly battered and toss them all, giving no shits, whatsoever into the back of the car and drive your brood; higher than a chav on E back home.
Here you must continue with an ever-diminishing level of patience (after all the birthday’s pretty much done and normal service can now resume) until everything’s back in the house. Then wash the sweat, tomato sauce and icing off your precious children’s hands and face and supervise a tired teeth clean with a growing tension which is causing a small tick in one eye (yours not the childs).
Next a lot of telling off will ensue as you battle like a Spartan in a Colesseum; attempting to get children who are by now whining about tummy ache and are equally prepared to ‘take you down’ if you prevent them taking a noisy/light-up toy into bed.
At approximately 11pm it’ll all be over and you’ll be congratulating yourself with a well-earned glass of something alcoholic then picking through which presents you’ll be saving to hand out at future parties for the next 12 months.
Until next year….