Bonfires and house parties

Mole turned five last month, and because it coincided with her starting school, we decided to do a home spun garden party for her, with some of her classmates. Note, just SOME of her classmates. I thought 10 would be a good number. But how do you select 10 children out of a class of 27?.

I took a photo of the display hanging up in the classroom, that showed everyone’s name, and then proceeded to read the names out to Mole, asking who she wanted to invite. She wanted to invite all of them. Mr M&H scoffed at this method and said I was much better off doing this when she wasn’t watching Charlie and Lola on TV, and that we should just go on how many classmates she could come up with on her own, without being prompted.

I don’t know how it happened really, but in the end 18 people got invited to this party. I reassured myself that probably only half this number would actually come, so it would end up being nearer to 10 after all. As the RSVP’s started rolling in, I began to get nervous, and the week before I totted up the total which came to 14. Some of the parents okayed it with me to drop their child off and return later, which to be honest I welcomed because it reduced the number of large adult bodies in our space.

On the day of this party, we had ballet lessons to get both Mole and Hedgehog to in the morning, plus I had a flu jab booked, which meant I had to do the ballet run, while Mr M&H set up the party at home. He seemed narked about this, but really I think he got the better deal, and I did the mental load of the work anyway by leaving a detailed list of instructions for him.

He’d completed about 75 per cent of this list by the time we returned, and then insisted he had to watch the pizzas in the oven, so the final hour before the party was spent in madly running around the house, putting up bunting, mowing the lawn, packing party bags and placing chairs all over the garden for the crowds to sit on.

The party itself went off really well. I expected the mess and the bedlam of little excited people charging about the place. Mole invited a posse of about 10 of them into her bedroom at one point. Mr M&H decided to extract them when he walked in to find three on the window sill, two hanging off the ladder, and another one under the bed, and came down the stairs with one child wriggling madly under each arm.

The children who had been dropped off disappeared into the throng and I didn’t see them again until they were picked up, not that I would have recognised which child belonged to which parent anyway. God knows how the nurseries do it.

There was an excited crowd around the birthday cake after the candle blowing presentation. My home made chocolate and lemon cake with flower decorations from hobbycraft got much admiration. It was visibly the most beautiful cake I have probably ever made, given that most of my cakes end up looking like inverted volcanoes, with a lake of icing in the middle. A bit of hobbycraft decoration goes a long way. One older sibling got quite worried that he was not going to get a piece if there weren’t enough party bags to go around, despite several reassurances that he would.

To distract them from the cake while I divided it up into the party bags, Mr M&H did a guitar singalong on the sofa, that included Baby Shark do do do do do do, Sleeping Bunnies, Big Red Combine Harvester and The Animal Fair. It attracted quite an audience, with parents congregating by the French doors into the garden. I think we could bring out the ‘Music Daddy’ act again next year.

By the time the party bags had been handed out and people had gone home, there remained a mini crèche of about four kids, all hiding in Mole’s room and giggling with balloons. I silently prayed that we hadn’t lost any of them, and that their parents hadn’t secretly got on a plane to South America, never to return.

After the last child was collected we all fell asleep for a bit, and munched on some cake. We did present opening and had the party leftovers for dinner, and stuck a Disney film on. The house took about four hours to restore to its former self, but Mr M&H kept steeling upstairs for a nap, so at around 6 o’clock the tiredness and resentment over spilled and I took off in the car, leaving him to deal with Mole and Hedgehog’s bedtime. (I also blame the pregnancy hormones at this point, it was a rollercoaster of a day and I had reached my limit).

After some aimless driving around I somehow ended up at IKEA for the evening, in a bizaar outing that turned out to be quite therapeutic, and brought home some new living room curtains. The house was tidy and quiet by the time I got back two hours later, so it all finished perfectly with a bubble bath and bed.

Who knew that a child’s birthday party could involve so much work? Even if its home spun like ours and supposed to be on a small scale. There were good compliments about it at the school gates the following week though, apparently all the kids had a fab time, which is really gratifying. “You’re so brave” was the most common comment I got from the other mums in the days that followed. Am I brave for having a child’s party at home? I wondered. I never thought of it like that. It was supposed to be the lazy and low maintenance choice. A teenagers house party would make me far more nervous.

Mr M&H certainly likes the house / garden party route, asserting that these have always been the best kinds of parties there are. He gets an allergic reaction to village hall parties, generally finding them boring. But then he’s not the main organiser of these parties. As the project manager to the parties and our family life in general, I shoulder most of the thinking and the stress that goes with it. Perhaps delegating tasks in bite size chunks, well in advance of the day is the way to go. Then I can sit back with my ‘to do lists’, point my finger and watch it all happen. Ha, that will be the day.

Mole’s actual birthday fell on a Wednesday, and that was a much more private affair, which I found that I could relax into and enjoy more. After school, we had a present opening session from family, followed by macaroni cheese for dinner (Mole’s favourite). Then after getting into PJ’s for bed, we lit a bonfire in the garden and sat in a circle on our camp chairs with hot chocolate and marshmallows, watching the stars come out.

This was so much fun that I’ve opted to do it every month. I reckon we’ll be doing it tonight in fact. So I’d better go and set up the firewood now. Mr M&H can do the hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Happy Autumn!