The Dolly has turned five! To mark this momentous occasion, we decided to have a party for her. For weeks we toyed with various alternatives having been to some amazing parties where thousands had literally been spent (that was just on the mother of the child’s plastic surgery). In the end we plumped for the local soft play centre where the world and his wife go and allow their children to run around like crazed loons whilst they sip lattes and dabble on the stock exchange. We secure a date and pay a deposit which is more than the weekly shop. I ask the doll excitedly, who do you play with? Who would you like to come to your party, bearing in mind we have 14 spaces to fill, she comes up with one name. The doll is the school celebrity, she walks into school where many children greet her and try to walk alongside her, depending on how she feels is how long the chosen child can escort her. She often wears some wonderful accessories to school, for example she arrived at school on the hottest day of the year, trussed up for winter, but also wearing sun glasses. She enters the classroom where a space is secured for her on the carpet between her two favourite friends, another child takes her book bag from her and places it in the box, another child takes her coat, she does not even put her name in the basket. This is remarkable to me as she has a communication delay, quite how she has managed to command such respect I will never know, I must have taught her well!
After much questioning, I manage to get some names from her, I happily write the invitations out and come up with a brainwave, I will fill the invites out and ask the teacher, then just fill the names in as I go. I sidle up to the teacher at kicking out time and shamefully ask who the doll plays with. She runs off a list of names and I shove the invites at her, I also have to ask her what these children look like, some of the children are two years above the doll but she doesn’t care. I lose track of the names and decide to hope for the best. I begin getting texts and emails accepting the invitation, I answer back as if I know who these people are. It’s all going well, I have been organised, I am writing names down and saving numbers in my phone for future purposes. I’m down to two people that have not responded, I decide to tackle this head on. I’m in the school playground one morning, I spy a child who looks vaguely familiar, I can’t remember which parent she belongs to and I don’t know her name but I’m sure she’s been invited to the party. I spy a man handing her a book bag, I assume this is dad and I swoop in. “Hi” I say, the man freezes, I bend down and adopt the same position, I smile and say hi again. The man gets up very slowly leaving me bent over speaking to the playground gravel. I pretend I’m cleaning my shoe and ping back up, I smile manically, the man starts backing away I follow him, I ask him if the girl (I’m so bad with names) is coming to the party, he’s backing away quickly repeating that his wife deals with these things and he’s just doing the school run because his wife is busy and he doesn’t know me and doesn’t speak to anybody. He backs into the fence I have him trapped, I want an answer, he must see this in my eyes, he tells me he will get his wife to talk to me, I think he’s scared. I let him go, and I watch him power walk out of the school scrabbling for his phone, to contact his wife, the oracle of the family. Later I get a text from the oracle, to my horror she was one of the first to rsvp, I’ve scared a husband for nothing, the poor man, he must be traumatised, he will never do the school run again for fear of being hounded by a maniacal woman. I apologise profusely and send a few emoticons in a bid to make peace.
Fast forward to party day, I spend the morning worrying and panicking, who will come to the party? Who will fake the plague so they don’t have to come, it would have to be a good plague as I will find out, will I lose a child? what do these children look like? I decide to stand in full view of the entrance and just smile at everybody who walks through the door in the hope they recognise me, yes, this is a plan. I ask the doll to wait to greet her guests, she has better ideas and runs off and leaves me greeting children who may or may not know her. People begin to arrive, I only mis recognise a few people who spend the rest of the time closely guarding their children from a strange grimacing woman.
The party guests arrive and we have a full quota, my next panic is that I didn’t get too carried away and invite the whole school and have just forgotten that I did. I spy the parents who have all gone into little groups, I dot around and listen to snippets of conversations to see which group I could join. The first group is talking about the best places to go skiing, the only thing I know about skiing is eating the yogurts you buy at the supermarket, next group, they are discussing the benefits of morning yoga, I’m just looking at them and wonder if they fart while getting into the yoga positions, I mean seriously, how do you overcome this? This is why I avoid yoga, if somebody farted at a critical time I would have to laugh, I wouldn’t do a discreet giggle, I would go full blown (a bit like the fart) laugh out loud, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate, I would disrupt the class and get thrown out and probably be barred. Anyway the yoga group discussion is not for me, the next group is discussing spreadsheets, I can blend into this one, I can pretend I know how to use a spreadsheet. The group participants gush about how theirs and their children’s lives are run by spreadsheet, my family is run by me screeching like a headless chicken, running around looking for shoes and accessories ten minutes after we should have left the house. I decide to chip in and say how I use a spreadsheet at work to organise myself, I’m getting nods of approval, I’m in the group, everything is going well, until I’m asked what my job is. I share my profession and the group freezes. The conversation begins again politely and I swig a large latte in The corner of the room.
The party guests begin to congregate around the table, they are hungry and wanting food, it’s not time yet, I can’t find the party host person, I decide I will chase the children around the centre, I tell them I will count to five then I will chase them. This will get me brownie points, people will see me and think wow she’s great, her kids must have such fun, what could go wrong? I’ve counted to five, the children have scattered, I pick some children to chase, it’s going well, people are staring, I’m trying to suck in my stomach so that my fat does not cause a minor earthquake when it wobbles as I run, while sucking my stomach in a decide to make monster noises, it’s going well, the children are screeching with delight, I’ve done a few circuits of the centre, I don’t realise that I’m only chasing one child now, making strange noises. I notice the child shuddering and making her way over to her mother, she runs desperately into her mothers arms crying and shaking, I’m still chasing her like a deranged dinosaur, I stop dead and try to casually look for another familiar child to style it out, heck, there aren’t any, I have to approach the child and ask if she’s ok, I tell the mother I saw another child who may have upset her, the mother comforts her, I nod reassuringly and edge away, the child suddenly stops crying and points at me, I hear her tell her mother that it wasn’t a child it was me, the mini mother groups all stop and stare at me. I have no choice, they are all staring at me, I have to appease the baying crowd, suddenly I have a brainwave, I begin to offer coffees and teas, everybody loves a hot drink, it works, hooray, they love me again. Ok to be fair, I had to buy muffins and cookies as well, but what’s a few cakes and biscuits between friends.
The party continues without a hitch, I’ve only had to scale to soft play apparatus twice to rescue my daughter, I’m feeling happy, it’s kicking out time, the party bags arrive. I too have also bought some extra sweets. I dole out the party bags and the extra sweets and a balloon the children go happily on their way. I spy another guest, I give him a party bag and encourage him to take extra sweets, “go on”‘ I say to him “have lots”, he is very reluctant, I don’t understand, I move on to the child’s brother, again I encourage him to fill his boots, it’s the end of the party, relief is encouraging my generosity, the child backs away. I try again, I really do not want to take home bags of Haribo and have to eat them as well as the cake. I thrust the bag at the boys again, the mother swoops in, she has an icy smile, she touches my arm and informs me that her children do not eat sweets, she doesn’t eat sweets and therefore her children don’t. I look at her and begin to tell her that my children don’t like sweets either, I recount a story where the doll spits out sweets, (granted, this was a year ago, she loves the sweets now), it’s going well, the mother is engaging with me and nodding along, I may just be able to style this out. I tell her about our healthy eating household and how the food served at the party was a strict one off. The woman asked where I get my organic groceries from, I tell her it’s delivered from a local source, Tescos delivery counts doesn’t it??. I tell her I cook all my meals from scratch, she tells me about the juices she blends and the meal plans that she spends her free time researching to optimise the potential of the food she cooks. I’m feeling ready to end the conversation, when my son approaches and asks if we are having nuggets or pizza for dinner and could I not overcook the smiley faces like I did last night as they were too crunchy. I try to laugh it off and blame my husband (sorry lush), but my son will not have it, he continues to point the finger and say it was me, I need a get out, I need to stop him, I try to laugh it off and inform the mother that he goes to stage school because of his comedy skills, she is looking sceptical, I give up and thrust the bag of sweets at him, he shouts yay dinner, I surrender and wave goodbye Mrs non sweet eating organic non friend.
Moral of the story, never rely on a child to have your back.
Much love x