Last Sunday Madeleine turned 8 and she had a great day with some girls icing cup cakes and having afternoon tea in the garden. We piled up loads of cushions under the chestnut tree and the girls all drank red fizzy drink and ate homemade meringues, sausage rolls, finger sandwiches and cake.
I was disappointed to miss a documentary this week on modern family life and the excessive, guilt driven, cash wasting extravaganza that children’s parties have become.
We have always had a party for our children. We love entertaining but it is also special for them. I remember it used to be a few kids and all the parents and our grown up friends and family. When the child was one or two years old you could have a fun themed cake, some cut up fruit and then loads of champagne and fine food for the adults. But now it is a different ball game.
Our cakes are chosen in advance and I toss and turn at night deciding how to construct each one. In the last few years we have had an X box, a LEGO block (very designer!), dolls, Harry Potter Dragon’s, Ballet slippers, Hedgehogs and the list goes on. We have party food, full meals and games, party bags and presents to say thank for coming and giving the birthday child a present. Thankfully we have not had to employ entertainers. We have been the guinea pigs for that. One such memorable event was Jakob’s 5th party in London. Andrew and I, together with his sister Kate managed to entertain 25 five year olds at a Star Wars party on one cold, wet English Saturday morning. It was intense and no experience in the classroom has prepared me for 5 year olds with light sabers bashing each other around the head; or my husband conducting Jedi training (???) in an attempt to gain control and order.
At the end of the day we like control, order,organisation. And the reality is when you have large numbers of small children gathered together there is none of the above.
Jakob turns 10 next week so we have had a decade of kids birthday experiences. He had two mates over last night for the first friend sleepover. HHhhmmmm it went well. Dinner, cake, some frantic outdoor play and then loads of mattresses and the 2nd/3rd Lord of the Rings films. There was some sleep. Some play. And now they have gone. Hopefully he enjoyed it.