I host a child’s birthday party.

There is a knock at the door!!!

“There you go,” I say to Child #1 as I reach for the handle. “It sounds as if the first of your friends has arrived.”

There is a loud whooshing noise. Seconds later I am scraping myself off the carpet and staring behind me at a room packed with six-year olds.

We have agreed to hold Child #1’s birthday party in the house this year, as it is a lot cheaper than going out, and it cannot be that difficult. The arrangement is that the LTLP will look after the parents whilst I organise the children, as I am good at that sort of thing, being funny and resourceful. “They are here,” I tell her.

“Received,” she replies, on the walkie-talkie from the Panic Room.

I have put the iPod docking thing in the corner, for entertainment; Child #1 has selected ‘Blood on the Tracks’ to make the party go with a swing. I tell the parents to go through to the other room, to be looked after by the LTLP. Instead, they sit around on chairs, sofas etc., studying me.

There is a short lull.

“Right, erm, you have to all dance around now, to the disco,” I say. “Or do musical statues. We will do musical statues.”

I am getting the hang of this already. We play musical statues. I look at my watch. 0.000001 minutes have passed since the alloted party commencement, which means that there will probably be time for another game, even if I eke it out and allow the cheating kids to resume playing even though they have clearly been told that they are out. In the end I give most of the kids some sweets because it is easier and it seems to keep them quiet for another 0.000003 seconds, which is valuable time used up.

We play musical bumps. Again, I have to say that musical bumps is a much shorter game than I remember from when I was a small child. I distribute more sweets, as I am running out of the extensive repertoire of games that I have planned. The parents continue gazing at me, no doubt getting tips for their own parties.

“Right. Now, erm, dance around for a bit. It is a disco,” I command.

The children dance around for a bit, to the disco. I run into the next room, where I find the LTLP hiding in a kitchen unit.

“Get out of there,” I order.

“I am doing,” she responds, haughtily, “the food.”

I have a bright idea and draw a big picture of Prince Charles on a flattened cardboard box. Carrying it back into the lounge, I announce that we are playing a game of ‘Draw the Nose on Prince Charles.’ I see one of the parents shake her head sadly.

The children draw the nose on Prince Charles. Most of them get the nose in pretty well exactly the right place, which is probably something to do with me not being used to blindfolding children, well not in these circumstances anyway, so I give most of them some more sweets and order them to dance around again. I look at my watch once more, but due to some temporal warp, the time is now seven minutes before the party is due to start. The children dance around, although it seems that dancing around is becoming less interesting as the afternoon wears on, so I give them some more sweets.

“Erm, now you need to sit round in a circle,” I say, giving them some more sweets. “And we will play pass the… erm… cushion.”

“How do you play that?” demands one of the children.

“How do you play that?” demands one of the parents.

“It is very simple,” I say, giving them both some sweets. “It is a bit like, erm, pass the parcel, but you use a cushion. But when the music stops and you have the cushion then, erm. It is an exploding cushion. So you have to shout ‘boom’.

“Boom?” says the child.

“Boom?” says the parent.

“Boom.” I confirm.

We have a trial run. I stop the music and the children shout ‘boom.’ They seem to enjoy doing this, so we play ‘pass the cushion’ for two hours, shouting ‘boom’. I give them all some more sweets. The LTLP arrives with some tea.

16 Comments

  1. The thing is, although at the time they felt epic to me, I seem to remember that a birthday party when I was a kid would usually be about two hours long.

    These days (at adult parties), that isn’t even enough time for everyone to turn up.

  2. When Katy was at primary party age, “Dead Lions” was the last resort of the hapless “entertaining” parent.

    Generally The Chairman poured the wine and handed round the sophisticated adult snacks in the kitchen, whilst I failed to amuse the young guests in the sitting room.

    One year a child free friend volunteered to entertain the children whilst we both enjoyed adult company in the kitchen. Our festivities were brought to a sudden end by strangled cries coming from the corridor where we found child free friend lying on the stairs with seven 9 year olds sitting whooping and hollering on top of her.

    Lord of the Flies was alive and well and living in Hendon.

  3. I had hoped that the children would arrive fashionably late, a la adults, Richard.

    Chairwoman – this would probably be a good place to record any amusing/embarrassing tales of Katy growing up, her teenage years etc? Just for the record, like.

  4. So the party went with a boom then, Jonny. Well done. I used to do treasure hunts in the garden, with clues. Cryptic clues, it took them hours to solve and in the meantime I put my feet up and drank neat gin.

  5. This is why I organized all of my kids’s parties with military precision including FOUR emergency time-wasting games. I’m pretty sure that Rome actually fell because some idiot in a toga left a roomful of six year olds with nothing to do for ten minutes.

  6. As the last Western Roman Emperor was actually a child, you might not be far wrong there, Megan. I think he swapped Gaul to the Visigoths for a champion conker.

    As for you “not being used to blindfolding children, Jonny, I can believe it. Binding and ball-gagging, sure, but why would you blindfold them? It’s no fun if they can’t see you preparing the equipment…

  7. The secret is to hire a couple of teenagers to entertain the kids and to hide in the shed with vodka – or am I the only one that did that?

  8. Er,no Grumpyoldwoman….The real secret is don’t have any bloody kids! And while you’re at it, disown any friends who might inconsiderately subject you to their spawn…..Oh Tranqulity how I love thee!

  9. The last children’s party I hosted was 33 years and 11 months ago. I am still haunted by the memory.

  10. At last you’ve found your metier.

  11. I gave the vodka to the children to speed things along a bit. And the metier. (Not sure what metier is, I imagine it is some form of French liqueur)

  12. Totally agree with Richard on his point!!

  13. You should have called me! I love organising parties. The only time that I went wrong was when I planned my daughters’ party on the same day as the Belgian team playing in the World Cup. The horror! Their father had decided to take all the kids out for a bike ride but didn’t get further than the end of the road when one girl fell off and broke her arm.

    It was so hot that they all came back begging to be allowed inside so I sat them down in front of the telly with an aspirin each – and they loved it.

    Win win!

  14. Don’t give them sweets! Sweets make them hyper. Let them run wild in the yard, they’ll get tired. Then play games.

    Just before they go home, stuff them with sweets. That should learn them parents good.

  15. Things have certainly changed since the birthday parties when I was a kid. I do recall “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” and “duck duck goose..” Next year, do an Internet search for party games for children! Having thoroughly enjoyed your “Bowls” book, I think you need to write another about you and your children. I imagine the kids were squirrely by the time they went home from the sweets. Thanks for the wonderful laugh

  16. Hullo Leilani and welcome!!! I probably won’t write anything about the children due to the injunction an’ stuff. But thank you – genuinely.

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