It's funny how French kids are not used either to home-made cakes or organised party games. The quizzical way they consider my attempts at games is really funny. I have done the MacDo thing paying for someone else to go to the trouble of entertaining the kids, and cleaning up afterwards (possibly the most important aspect), and taken kids to Accrobranch to climb along pathways high up in the trees followed by a picnic tea. This year though, my eldest had a party at home, and thoroughly enjoyed it, so, flushed with the memory of that, I bravely ventured into unknown territory - birthday invitations for 5-yr olds.
My son had a list of 9. No girls, no, bleh! They keep wanting to kiss and chase after him and he's not yet interested in that sort of activity. I printed off some invitations with the Mallard (fastest steam train in the world, British, natch) on them, which is his favourite train at the moment, and, thanks to Brio, will be able to whoosh it around his track too. He'll have to make the noises though. Boys seem to like making noises, have you noticed? My youngest makes an incredibly realistic machine gun noise, amongst others. They never grow out of it, either. It's a boy thing.
We have a tradition in our house of orange cake for birthdays. Actually, this tradition will cease to exist from this year, for my youngest at least, as he turned his nose up at it at his party. Talk about non-plussed. Anyway, Saturday afternoon had been exhaustingly spent shopping and baking his ruddy cake, plus a biscuit cake from my Pooh Bear book of teatime recipes given to me by my aunt in 1971. Ooh, it takes yer back, it does! I had also been onto my favourite party games site and printed off a number of fun activities. What would I do without that site? Not hold parties in my house, that's for sure! Can you remember the games you played when you were young? I can't, beyond pass the parcel and blind man's buff. Certainly not enough to keep 9 active little boys occupied for 3 hours.
His birthday had started with a depleted pile of pressies thanks to the workings of the Post Office strikes, but he had enough to keep him happy. Then came the clearing the decks phase so that, as it was raining, we could have stampeding inside without the whole house coming to grief. I dug out their pop-up house and we inflated 30 balloons. By 3pm we had a house full.
They were all expecting to do their own thing all afternoon, playing with my son's toys and beating each other up. The fact that I had other ideas was peculiar in their eyes, and indeed, some kids chose not to participate in some of the games. I also had to contend with one boy who arrived sleepy and didn't want to stay. He started wailing and I told the parents to just leave. I barred his exit and they scurried out of the house, whereupon I locked the door and the kid threw himself upon it desperate to make a bid for freedom. Within 5 minutes he was happily joining in the treasure hunt, however, as I was able to tell the parents when they called 15mins later.
A window in the rain enabled us to throw the boys outside for an Easter egg hunt and they ran up and down the very steep road outside. As they were divided into two teams, they had to fill up the captains' bags with their loot, rather than every man for himself with greedy pushing and shoving. My eldest and a friend from over the road whose little brother was there were the captains and generally helped organise the little ones. They also helped keep anarchy at bay, rounding up boys for games and maintaining order before fights broke out. I felt there were a couple of occasions when we could have lost it and the whole start on a rampage around the house. Scary stuff.
Luckily we had balloon games and enough things to entice them to play along, and thus kept trouble at bay. I didn't bother with a table and chairs for tea. Boys are not renowned for sitting still longer than 2 mins at a time, and it was original for them having to sit on the floor to eat.
At last we made it to 6pm when mummies arrived and carted off their little darlings. I lay prostrate on the sofa with a strong G&T, but my son did tell me he'd had a lovely party.
So, it was worth it...