The other day I turned to a group of mothers and said, “I think I am a grumpy mummy.” They laughed and then paused, waiting for me to explain myself. The laughter was somewhat nervous. “I don’t like children’s parties.” I helpfully added. A few nodded. A few looked at me as though children’s parties are a strange thing to dislike.
And they are. But let’s try to see it from my point of view for just a moment. Let’s collect seventeen five-year-olds who know each other somewhat. Throw some parents into the mix. Add sugar. Then some strange activities that the children must learn the rules of (such as pass-the-parcel). Keep things ticking along with more games, and some cake. Now some presents that only the ‘birthday girl’ or ‘birthday boy’ get to open, while everyone else is left to a) covet, b) feel embarrassed about or c) gloat over. Shuffling parents on the outside of the present-opening-circle try not to compare what their child has contributed with what else the birthday kid is opening. If all goes well, the kids survive without major bust-up tantrums, and the parents extract them and their little lolly bag at the appointed hour.
But it doesn’t end there. The food at birthday parties is typically high-GI, which is code for ‘un-filling’. So the kid you get to take home is usually ravenous despite having stuffed enormous quantities of party food in their gob. You get the sugar-high, followed by the tetchy-slumpy-grumpy-whingy-whiney-why-did-I-ever-have-kids-phase. And the kid doesn’t behave much better. They are tired, having expended large amounts of both physical and emotional energy. And for some unknown reason, suddenly has an extremely inflated sense of entitlement, as though some of the “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” mentality has rubbed off on them. The lolly bag lasts far too long, and provides too many days of rationing and sibling-wrangling for my liking. And do not get me started on balloons.
No, really, I mean that. I hate balloons so much. This has only started to become a problem since I became a mother. They are evil pieces of latex (or whatever rubberish material they are made from). I am sure they have some mysterious ability to devilishly transmogrify the air contained within them into a noxious gas. They are capable of wreaking havoc on the surrounding environment through sheer force of gaseous malevolence. And they are at their worst in cars. All my kids’ inflated balloons get put in the boot as soon as we take them in the car. From there, they are mercilessly dispensed with. I dump their bodies later. Yes. I am a balloon murderer.
I do not think I’m alone. I believe a lot of parents struggle with being happy at events such as children’s parties.
My problem is that I am honest about it, from time to time. That throws people. I’m sure the stunned silence I am greeted with suggests that people are trying not to agree with me (for the sake of propriety), rather than indicating any lack of agreement on their part. It simply couldn’t be that I am a grumpy mummy, and they are actually very nice parents. Could it?
Post Script: And now, for something completely different. My very wonderful friend Lulu has a new blog. Her kids are hilarious, and I am so glad she’s sharing their stories with us.