Every time I think about Tadpole’s upcoming sixth birthday party I am filled with dread.
In previous years I’d always had a cast-iron excuse not to throw one. When she was three, for example, Tadpole hadn’t yet started pre-school and only knew the two other children our childminder cared for. Despite the fact that we’d been separated for over a year by this time, Mr Frog and I rallied around and took Tadpole on a day out to Disneyland Paris, with the help of a kind reader of this blog who worked at Disney head office and offered us free entry passes.
The following year, there was no question of throwing a children’s party in the minuscule flat Tadpole and I had, by then, moved into, and as mamie and papy happened to be in town staying with Mr Frog, all that was required of me was to head over to his place with cake to drink a glass of bubbly with them while Tadpole ripped open her presents.
Tadpole turned five two days after my wedding day and, as space was still a huge limiting factor, I simply invited over a couple of friends and their children for cake and wedding party leftovers, which we shared in my tiny living room cum bedroom. Dazed from the exertions of the weekend, I was inordinately proud of myself for having managed a return taxi trip to Pantin to retrieve Tadpole’s oversized birthday parcel (a wooden dolls’ house) from the postal sorting centre so that her gift would be awaiting her in her bedroom when she got home from school.
This year, however, I’ve finally run out of excuses. I now have the space necessary in order to invite seven of Tadpole’s favourite classmates over for the traditional 3pm to 6pm party slot. Tadpole is ecstatic at the prospect – and has been since approximately September last year. Meanwhile I’m at my wits’ end, wondering how on earth I’m supposed to entertain eight children for three whole hours, indoors. After all, blowing out the candles and eating a slice of cake (or two) will take all of ten minutes, won’t it? French children, you see, don’t eat dinner until at least 7pm. So the British birthday tea is replaced by a mere late afternoon snack.
“What did you play last weekend when you were at Milan’s party?” I enquire of Tadpole, trying to glean as much useful information as possible while concealing my rising tide of panic.
“We pinned the tail on a pig,” Tadpole replies, after a long pause, seemingly unable to recall any of the other activities which took place. “With a bandeau over our eyes… And then we went outside and played in the cour.” I sigh. Letting the children run around in our small communal courtyard was an option I’d been entertaining until construction workers begin to use it as a storage facility a week ago, due to structural work to be carried out on a neighbouring building.
When I discussed the impending party with Mr Frog – it’s actually taking place on one of his weekends – he graciously consented to bring Tadpole over in time for the party and said he would probably stay “for a little while”. Meanwhile, The Boy, who – quite understandably – has little desire to share his Saturday afternoon with a throng of shrieking, sugar-fuelled children and, what is more, doesn’t wish to trample on Mr Frog’s toes, is planning to make himself scarce.
Which just leaves me and my rapidly expanding waistline, armed with any suggestions my kind readers are able share in the comments box below…
It went really well! Thank you for all the suggestions. I cut the party down to two and a half hours, banished boys altogether (!) – aside from The Boy, who was brilliant. We alternated boisterous games with quieter activities (making bracelets, decorating iced shortbread biscuits). Successes included ‘pin the nose on the Hello Kitty’, a race involving smarties and drinking straws, a variation on musical bumps where the last one to sit each time had to put on an item from the dressing up bag of tricks until everyone had three hats and dissolved in a mass of giggles… And a kind fellow parent turned up a little before the end and made balloon animals. All in all, a resounding success!