So Isla has had her party. I can hear regular readers breathing a sigh of relief, at last! We no longer have to hear about the ruddy birthday, get on with it please! And move on. Ok, but I have to stress, that any frustration you're feeling is incomparable to ours.
We did her proud, the princess theme was carried out right through to the napkins, we even rented a bouncy castle with a (rather dodgy and obviously in breach of copyright) picture of Cinderella on it, tea was set for twelve suitably attired princesses, and games and fun galore were planned.
Two o'clock came and people started arriving to drop off their princesses. Did you hear me? I said drop off. Drop off! Have some time to yourself! Enjoy the next few hours while I offer free, and extremely fun, childcare and food. But no, in came the mummies (some with husbands surgically attached) and refused to leave. I panicked, threw caution to the wind and gaily assumed the role of gracious of course I was expecting you host. Every spare cake was thrown into use and divided into twenty (didn't know you could slice a cake into twenty? Neither did I, I usually cut it into one and eat that slice myself). Tea cups were grabbed from the dodgy-and-chipped-tea-cup collection at the back of the cupboard, I even remembered to empty any spiders and bits of fluff. The spare emergency box of UHT milk was made use of and I improvised like a pro, all the time keeping up what I assume was amusing and interesting chatter in the manner of Frank Spencer. I don't know whether I didn't give anyone a chance, or that my chatter was so entertaining and informative that nobody wanted it to stop, but there was complete silence in the kitchen. I could hear Husband's brain whirring over time Talk! Oh Please! For the love of God, someone talk to someone else, anything to shut my wife up.
I shut myself up, by loudly and musically announcing I was off to the sitting room for party games, and would everyone please make themselves at home and help themselves to some cake.
I left the kitchen in a cloud of false mirth, desperate to face the relatively easy company of twelve princesses. Until I felt behind me a kind of ominous presence. I turned slowly, hoping aginst hope to find a poltergeist, a ghoul with it's head chopped off, anything (anything!) but what I knew I would see. There behind me in a funeral like procession walked the Parents-That-Refused-To-Leave, I almost (almost) stalled, before automatically moving into oh there you are, I thought I'd lost you! mode and beckoned them wildly into the sitting room.
There stood before us a glory of pink and sparkle, not one head was left unadorned, tiaras winked in the sunshine offering hope and, well, more hope I suppose. I picked up the pink CD player that Isla had been given for Christmas and trilled who wants to play some party gaaaames! I even offered a whoop whoop a la Oprah, but stopped short at the you go girl! for fear of looking false.
They stood there, in silence, all pink dresses, twisted knees and turned in toes, the theme for this party should have been awkwardness as opposed to princesses. Friend-from-pre-school Alexa began chewing her tiara, Ava started to cry, no one it seemed, wanted to play, except Isla who was on home territory and couldn't wait to begin.
I turned again (this was beginning to be a theme) and the Parents-Who-Refused-To-Leave stared silently, they didn't even have any cake in their hands, didn't they know how hard I'd sliced, and at great speed? What did they expect me to do? If they had in fact, as expected, left, then I would have danced around manically in a Ko Ko the Klown stylee, roly poly-d like a rabid dog, roared and lept re enacting a lion and gazelle hunt, anything, to get them going. Instead I sheepishly started the CD player, the rendition of Pants! not serving at all to lighten the mood, while Husband and I realised that it was not as cute as first though that Isla knew all the words.
I think you'll find came a well meaning voice behind me that they'll liven up a bit after the tea, a bit of sugar works wonders. Tea? Sugar?But the tea isn't until the end I spluttered, horrified at my gaff. Now, I know that Isla is our first child but our memories can't be that bad surely? Husband and I both remember parties in our day, pass the parcel, musical bumps, no parents watching and the tea at the end before going home time. Who had changed the rules? And not told me?
And sugar? Damn, damn my well meaning rice cakes and raisins, damn Gillian McKeith who haunts my dreams with innovative new TV shows such as Surprise the Inadequate Parent - which one shall we shame tonight? (cue looming large blue finger booming It Could Be YOOOOU) And I knew, just knew, that any sign of a jelly tot or French fancy at Isla's tea, she be down on me like a vulture to a field mouse and take me down in the manner of the Titanic (Jack! Jack!) and film her best episode yet.
Silence swelled about the room like an unwelcome large guest who's stolen from you before and you weren't expecting to ever come back to visit. In desperation I looked around, and spied Husband quivering behind the pink CD player still blaring out Pants! Lenny Henry's voice had never sounded so accussing. We caught each other's eye and I gave him the wink, the one that offered promises of glorious unmentionables later if he would go with me on this one.
Everybody outside! I yelled, in a voice that could have been heard around the globe, I think the monster's hiding on the bouncy castle! Twelve pink slippered princesses leapt into life and screamed appreciatively, Husband gave me a return look that meant said unmentionables were going to be considerable, and after a pint. A flurry of pink jumped onto the castle as Husband went behind to roar in his best I'm going to get you voice. And still the Parents-Who-Refused-To-Leave (from here on known as TPWRTL) refused to leave. They watched Husband give an Oscar worthy monster performance, his red face the only clue as to the humiliation he was enduring. I heard a loud voice, a scratchy desperate one exit my mouth. Tea! Tea is ready! It wasn't, but anything was less painful than this.
I sat twelve princesses down to a barely cooked tea of sausage and chips and watched them eat in silence, watched - silently - by the PWRTLs. But they did start to warm up, it was quite miraculous really. Chatter started, each princess tried to out do the other in how many jewels they had on their tiara, crikey food was even thrown and I was delighted, delighted! Ah, you see, it's not that bad, all they needed was a bit of food. And sugar on the chips.
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