I sunk gratefully onto the sofa. My feet ached. I was hot and bothered. I felt exhausted. I sighed rubbing my foot. “Who knew a kids party would be such hard work!” I said to Rob as he came into the room looking equally as tired.
“I did try to warn you.” He said light heartedly and slumped on the sofa next to me. “Ella is watching The Little Mermaid so we should get a few minutes peace.” He continued patting my leg and grabbing the remote control.
It had been a very hectic day. Ella our daughter had turned 6 on Friday so we’d decided to throw a party on the Sunday afternoon knowing Saturdays are horrendously busy for many families. Not being able to decide on a guest list we’d decided to hire the local community centre hall and install a bouncy castle and ball pit. Invites were issued to the whole class and to my utter amazement 27 out of 30 children turned up. Parents happily deposited them at the door and sped off for 2 hours peace and quiet. The noise at times was deafening and I’d had to referee arguments, console children who had mysteriously fallen out with their best friend and tend to a twisted ankle. The party ended at 5 p.m. but it wasn’t until nearly 30 minutes later that the last child was collected. Ella had enjoyed every second but we had decided a low key event maybe required next year. My poor mum who had offered to help left looking traumatised and muttering that children were much more boisterous now a days. I smiled as I scanned through the photos on my phone knowing all the mayhem had been worth it.
The next day my best friend Megan pulled me to one side. “I think you’ve started something with your party yesterday.” She said smirking, “I heard Charlotte moaning. Apparently Bethany had an amazing time and wants a bouncy castle party too. Of course this doesn’t really go with Charlotte’s image. She’d earmarked Pottery Palace and afternoon tea.”
“What seriously!” I laughed glancing over at the mum in question. I must say the thought of Charlotte on a bouncy castle surrounded by screaming kids was amusing. She was definitely one of the yummy mummies. She always came to school with perfect hair, full make up, co-ordinated jewellery and very high heels. By comparison I left the house some mornings unsure if I’d actually brushed my hair.
“Apparently Bethany had a full on tantrum about it and you know Bethany usually gets her own way. Charlotte is not amused.” Megan said grinning broadly just as Charlotte sauntered past giving a faint smile.
Over the following months it was party wars. Most of us found it all rather amusing but a select few seemed to think it was a chance to improve their social status and their child’s wellbeing depended on it. I’d actually overheard one mum say she didn’t want her little darling scarred for life by a disappointing party.
The parties became more elaborate with each invitation. Roller skating discos, hiring an entire cinema for a private screening of the latest must see film, hiring Elsa and Anna lookalikes and a Harry Potter themed event were the children kept their cloaks which cost £20 each.
The following weekend brought yet another party this time at a house. I was bemused when a parent dressed as a clown opened the door. It was Grace one of the yummy mummies. “Come in quick.” She said grabbing my arm and shooing Ella through. “I don’t want the neighbours to see.” She said by way of explanation as she hurriedly slammed the door.
“Um…Ok.” I replied as she ushered us into a beautiful conservatory full of children. Music was playing and several children were already covered in chocolate from the fountain that stood on a low table.
“The entertainer we booked cancelled at the last minute. Olivia would have been devastated so I had to step in. David is googling clowns. I can hula hoop but think that might only entertain the children for a few minutes.” She said shrugging and looking thoughtful behind the makeup. “Can you juggle?” She said looking at me hopefully.
“Well actually I can.” I said uncertainly, “Although I haven’t had a go recently.”
“Quick come this way.” Grace dragged me to the kitchen and thrust three balls into my hands. “See if you can still do it.” Tentatively I gave it a go and surprised myself by succeeding. “Amazing!” Grace smiled. “Can you manage four?” She said waving another ball.
Half hour later I was dressed as a clown and was entering the conservatory where the children were now seated looking happy and slightly baffled. I heard one child whisper to Ella, “Is that your mum?” Bizarrely it turned out Grace’s parents owned the fancy dress store in town and had supplied the costumes. Her dad had also been roped in as he knew a few amateur card tricks. The routine went ok, I dropped the balls when I ambitiously attempted six, Grace forgot the lines to several of the jokes, but her dad went down a storm and was brilliant with the children.
After face painting (by a professional) and food (that was brought in by caterers) the children were collected and I got changed leaving Ella playing with Olivia and all her new presents.
I returned to the kitchen to find Grace crying with her head in her hand. “What’s the matter? The party was brilliant.” I said feeling a little unsure. Grace wasn’t a close friend and I didn’t know whether to hug her.
“Oh…Um…I’m just being silly.” She replied straightening up and attempting a smile. “Olivia really enjoyed her party. Thanks for helping most of the other mothers couldn’t stay.” She said shrugging. Her eyes began to fill with tears again and she sniffed. “I’m being ridiculous. It’s just….well….Olivia said she didn’t know I was fun…..or had flat shoes.”
I nearly laughed but sensing this was serious kept a straight face. “I’m sure that’s not what she meant.”
“She did. She said I was usually too worried about messing my hair or makeup and was always telling her to be quiet as I have a headache,” She sighed and a tear fell down her cheek. “In my defence I used to get terrible migraines.”
“You don’t need to explain yourself to me.” I said quickly feeling a little uncomfortable. At this point David appeared and I silently left husband and wife together said a quick goodbye to Olivia and scuttled out of the house with Ella.
Monday morning at school I was chatting to Megan who was stunned by my clown debut when Grace appeared. Her makeup was stripped back making her look younger and she was wearing some beautiful linen trousers with flat ballet pumps. I saw her talking to Charlotte and another yummy mummy who both looked stunned by her appearance and clown escapade.
I had just said goodbye to Megan and was climbing into my car when Grace appeared.
“I thought I’d missed you.” She said breathlessly. “I just wanted to say thanks for yesterday. You were amazing and the party has taught me a valuable lesson. Do you know I’ve never taken Olivia swimming?” She said shaking her head. “Always too worried about my mascara.” Before I could reply she continued. “We are going to the new Aquadrome Saturday. I’d be happy to take Ella give you a couple of hour’s peace to make up for stealing your free time at the party.” Grace smiled. Plans were made and phone numbers exchanged.
Over the next few months’ things returned to normal. It seemed party wars had finally ceased and lessons had been learned.