Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Kids' parties: a competitive sport?

There are only three* things that I've loathed about having kids, and at the top of the list is birthday parties. Please indulge me while I rant: I've been waiting for 16 years to find a place to get this off my chest and now I have my own blog (whhaah-ha-ha.... evil laugh) I can let it all hang out.

I have many axes to grind with the moneyed, over-indulgent helicopter-parents of Johannesburg, and this is the sharpest axe of all.

I'm tempted to bore you with a list of all the disgusting, boastful birthday parties I've been to in my career as a mother, but I don't have ten days to spare, so instead, I've composed a list of do's and don'ts for anyone contemplating throwing a party for Precious.

If you're planning a party, DON'T:

* Organise a party that is 35 km out of town. That's just rude. No matter how cute that Pony Club is, or how adorable that Party Farmyard, I don't want to do a 70-km round trip on a Saturday afternoon, when I could be vegging on the couch with a packet of chips and a bottle of wine, or on a Wednesday afternoon, when I have work to go back to, or other kids to schlepp around town. Find a venue that's within a 5-km radius of the school.

* Have the party at your local Country Club. This is offensive and tasteless on every level, especially if there are silver chafing dishes filled with manky old sausage rolls, and white-gloved waiters dispensing tea and Appletisers. I'm really impressed that you're a member of such a club, but does your kid give a toss?

* Have a barman, catered food, a sushi chef, performing poodles, a popcorn vendor and a choir at the party. If you want to impress your friends, have your own dinner party. I know this is a great opportunity to show off your kelims, your orchids, your imported French antique furniture and your highly trained gem of a maid, but please focus on the needs of your child. One jumping castle will do: no need to hire a train, bumper cars, a trampoline, a clown, a magician and a face-painter. Also, there's no call to give out party packs consisting of a R450 Lego set for the boys and a Gucci bag for the girls. A water pistol and a Fizzer will suffice.

* Invite 65 children. Your five-year-old can't cope with so many kids. All he wants is a few buddies, a cake, candles, sweeties, and lots of presents. But, at the same time, don't....

* ...invite only half the class, leaving out the losers and the fat kids. If you want to invite only a select few, do it via SMS or email and tell Precious to shut up about it. Please don't give her ten hand-written invitations and tell her to distribute them to her best friends.

* Combine the party with a lekker braai for all your buddies. You should not be serving, or drinking, alcohol while you're supposed to be in charge of 35 children. Bring out a bottle of wine (or ten!) when the parents arrive to fetch the kids, by all means, but please don't mix dop with jumping castles, foefie slides and farmyard animals.

* Expect me to make small talk about nappies, gyms, highlights, coffee shops and Precious's latest school report while I sit resentfully at the table with a bunch of mothers who have the collective brain power of a mosquito. Rather let me sulk in a corner of the garden with a newspaper.

* Forget to make Precious write a note saying thanks for the prezzie. Ok, it only cost thirty ront, which is about one-thousandth of what the party cost, but it really is the thought that counts. It is polite to write a thank-you note (and that goes for adults too).

* Get mad with me if I scone all the cocktail pork sossies and the jelly-orange wedges. They are so much tastier than the tuna sashimi.

* Let your four-year-old trash my house, and giggle at his "Fuck off, you old bag!" when I reprimand him for smearing cake-icing on my PC screen. Rather say, "I won't tolerate such disgusting behaviour. It's off to bed with you, lad, and NO party pack!".

If you're invited to a party, DON'T:

* Forget to RSVP. That' s just rude.

* Bring along extra kids, friend and relatives, without asking. That's also rude.

* Fetch your kids an hour and a half after the agreed-upon collection time. I'm not your babysitter.
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* The other two things I've loathed about having kids: 1. Making lunch boxes. 2. Not going on cool holidays to exotic destinations.



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