Lately, I have found my weekends being taken over by children’s birthday parties – a somewhat inevitable and unavoidable consequence of having young kids of your own. Quite often these parties are a godsend, especially during winter when you are in desperate need of finding entertainment for the ‘winks. But, just as often they can be a torturous pain in the you-know-what. Gone are the days when a kids’ party meant parents could wave ‘goodbye’ to their kids and ‘hello’ to freedom for a couple of hours. These days parents are expected to STAY for the entire duration of the party, which, depending on the venue, can be a flippin’ nightmare for an MSer suffering with heat, noise and stress sensitivity; not to mention fatigue and mobility issues.
Here are just a few of the recent parties I have been lucky enough to attend:
The Trampoline Party – Hot, sticky, noisy, chaotic and lacking in seats. Welcome to the ultimate dream venue for excitable bouncers and the worst nightmare for their parents. I naively went along, expecting to sit and watch with the other grown-ups while the kids went nuts on the springy sea of mats. Upon arrival, however, I was handed a pair of grippy socks and told that my daughter was too small to be allowed in without an adult and I therefore had no choice but to clamber into the arena, while the other parents stood smugly and watched from the other side of the net. I found myself stuck in the middle of some kind of frenetic storm of activity. Children of all shapes and sizes, some bigger than me, careered about, rebounding off the walls and catapulting themselves in my direction. Having lost sight of my child completely, all I could do was find a tiny perch in the midst of the chaos and huddle into a ball until the storm had passed.
The Village Hall Party – 3 hours! I’m not even kidding. Three hours I spent sitting on an uncomfortable plastic chair making small talk with mums who I had never met. In between spurts of awkward conversation we watched as our children pranced around the hall dressed as princesses. Things didn’t improve much when the ‘entertainment’ arrived – a woman caked in make up, with an impossibly squeaky ‘American’ accent and a wig the length of the Nile, purporting to be the real Rapunzel.
The Soft Play Party – As bad as it gets… surely? Everything is magnified in this most claustrophobic of environments. The heat, the smell, the noise, the excitement, the screeching, the crying, the bad ’90s pop music, the whole anarchic energy. It is horrific. During this particular party I was lucky enough to find a seat in the overcrowded ‘restaurant’ area, situated beneath the play equipment. I sat there breathing in the sick-inducing whiff of beef burgers mingled with greasy fries, smelly feet and body odour. Unlike other occasions, I wasn’t called upon to enter the climbing frame and join in – that can be a whole other sort of nightmare, especially when you don’t feel like disclosing your MS but equally don’t wish to look like a total loser if you don’t take part or, worse, get stuck trying to climb down a tiny padded ladder (it has happened).
The House Party – A very rare breed of party these days, but a blessed delight for the parents of those attending, if they can find a host brave enough to take it on.
But now, with all this talk of self-isolation, a noisy and smelly kids party doesn’t sound so bad!