When I was a student (it didn’t last for long, but then the course was only for a year) I had to provide for myself, more or less. This meant that I did a variety of part time jobs in order to show the wolf the door. I was in turn a data entry operative (boring), a residential social worker (sounds fancier than it was), and a youth worker (barely older than the yoof) but the pinnacle of my various employments was as a children’s party entertainer. The younger kids were sweet, and enjoyed the simple magic tricks that I could perform, but the worst of the worst of my experiences was whenever there was a gang of eight or nine year old boys because they were absolute terrors. I just couldn’t control them at all, and they would spend the entire party (which their parents had spent good money on getting me in to do the entertainment for) trying to beat each other up. Now, as I had not had any rugby coaching experience I was at my wits end whenever I was hired to do a party for this particular age group, and it was pretty clear to me I was completely hopeless with them. If you haven’t ever experienced this then just imagine a group of feral boys in some sort of ‘party rage’ and that’s before they get anywhere near to the orange squash and sugar.
I can’t say that twenty more years of life experience have equipped me in any way to deal with nine year old boys, and so it was at La Gidg’s birthday party that we had a breakaway group of tearaways hell bent on breaking each other’s skulls. Why were they there when the party was for my delicious six year old? Well they were all big brothers of her friends, and you can’t invite one without inviting the other. Well you can, but I hadn’t. They enjoyed themselves anyway, charging around the grounds of Sa Taronja Cultural Centre in Andratx (the venue was kindly donated to me by them when it became apparent that the weather wasn’t going to play ball on that day and it is a brilliant place to have a kids’ party, just so you know).
But it is all getting a bit tricky: when my daughter compiled her invitation list she was very clear that she wanted to invite certain children, but not others (she also has quite a big crush on a couple of the big brothers, so they were on the list anyhow). This is all very well if you’re not friends with their parents, but I am so how do you explain ‘well, she’s decided that she isn’t friends with Fenella this week’? Frankly, you can’t, so you’re left in the sticky situation of trying to avoid the parent until the birthday party is but a distant memory and hope you don’t get asked about it.
On the up side the party was a hit, La Gidg made an extremely cute rabbit, and my husband did dress up as a carrot (the man in the fancy dress shop in Santa Ponsa had a good laugh at me when I tried to enlist his help to assemble a costume, but he did come through with some garish green hoola skirt and orange plastic fringing), and my mum had massive birthday cake anxiety – the icing wouldn’t stick and she fretted about it for a full 24 hours. Of course like any great event, you have to wait for the reviews, so when La Gidg came home from school on Monday to tell me that her friends had said it was ‘the best birthday party ever’ I felt like we’d just been awarded a Michelin star.