Thursday, 23 October 2008

I think I was deprived as a child....

Yesterday afternoon, I was invited to a party. I was excited, intrigued and not a little fearful. It was a 5 year old's birthday party.

Now children's birthday parties are something beyond my ken. I get asked to godchildren's birthdays but since they all seem to live 100's of miles away there is never actually an obligation to go. Consequently I have avoided this particular delight.

I have memories of childrens parties that I went to in my long lost youth. These involved exciting things like pass the parcel, musical chairs, traffic light jellies in paper cases, and my best dress and shiniest shoes. (look, they were exciting for me ok!) Ah, happy days. There are times when I am looking through recipe books and I see a cake shaped like a carousel, or Nigella's improbably glamourous looking gingerbread men and I say 'sigh, no reason for me to cook these things'. Actually, I realise that there is no reason for anybody to cook such confections - well not unless they wanted theur house and the entire neighbourhood to be destroyed by a pack of wild children on a sugar high.

The party in question took place after school, so no party dresses for a start - just school uniforms. In addition the sensible parents had realised that twenty 5 year olds eating carousel cake would ultimately require the UN and possibly the red cross. I had arrived stylishly late and found the worlds biggest carpet picnic taking place. Plastic sheets were spread on the floor and the mini destroyers were working their way through sausages and buns, carrot and cucumber, slices of melon, boxes of raisins, and then malt loaf and swiss roll. It was all alarmingly civilized. I'm pretty sure I heard two of the boys discussing the American election.

The parents were calmly distributing drinks and other such delights, whilst another mother took crocodiles of small children backwards and forwards to the loo. This is not what i remember? Ok - we never sat on the floor, but there was definitely nothing nutritious at the parties of my youth. If it wasn't made of sugar, jelly or chocolate it didn't turn up. Or I don't think it did. Have I made up my childhood memories? Is this how it really went? A civilised carpet picnic?

I looked around the room. A few wary parents were scattered amongst the children, grasping strong coffee and praying that their child would not be the Taliban at this particular event. They looked faintly astounded that a non parent / relative would voluntarily come to the party and one harassed mother confessed that her normal party policy was the slightly revolting sounding 'dump and run'. I wondered if I had made a horrible mistake and should have developed a virulent contagion that would have prevented me from coming? Was I mad to have come?

Whilst I pondered my own sanity, tea was decreed to be over. The plastic sheets were swept up with all the detritus of tea on them, and put into black bin bags. A cake strewn with candles appeared, was blown out, and everyone sang happy birthday in welsh, and in tune. Then the entertainment kicked in and I realised that I had been robbed as a child. I was deprived. I should have therapy and possibly a cash refund. I may have had cake and jelly, but I never had this.

Into the large Sitting Room came a swarthy and grizzled welshman. His cords were worn, his checked shirt clean but faded and his green huski waistcoat was newly darned and pressed. On his wrist he carried a SNOWY OWL!!!!!

Mesmerised children magnetised around him like iron filings in a science experiment, moving in a wave wherever he went. (Well, all apart from the one boy who felt that snakes that ate girls would have been a far better entertainment). The children were allowed to stroke the feathers and they gasped with excitement when the head swivelled around to fix them with a beady amber glare. This was just the beginning.

5 minutes later, Caspar, the barn owl came to join them. The birthday boy was given a gauntlet and a small chunk of dead mammal. He held out his arm and called out to the bird, which glided across the room and landed on upheld arm. There was the most perfect expression of joy and fear on his face. On the other side of the room his father had a similar set up and the owl flew, silent as only an owl can be, over the awed childrens heads back and forth between father and son. I have to say that I think there is a possiblity that the father enjoyed it more. There was a look on his face of a man fulfilling a childhood dream....

I didn't stay much longer. Not being 5 I couldn't go and stroke the owl and demand the gauntlet and I didn't want to see an unexpected sugar rush hit and the party descend into a madness of feathers, cake and sobbing 5 year olds.

It didn't make me long to have children - the whole thing had been organised with military precision and looked like hard work. But it did make me want to be 5 years old again - just for a few minutes.


katyboo1 said...

Waah! I wanna n'owl! I wanna n'owl. Aunty Welsh Girl, purlease canni haven'owl? Snot fair. Canni have two? Make the man in cords gimme an'nowl. And some cake and a balloon on a stick in the shape of anowl.

bonnie-ann black said...

about the adult enjoying it more? i was recently at a Celtic Festival in upstate new york where a falconer also had some baby barn owls, which are my very favorite owls. (i know, don't ask... i also like particular species of bats!) i got soooo excited that the woman handling the ones on public display asked if i wanted to help her put them back in their boxes. i picked the first one up and burst into tears, i was so overcome.

i grew up in a household with *lots* of animals, including deer, a monkey and a crow(that's for a whole long post on my own site one of these days) but i don't think i ever burst into tears holding one before.

bevchen said...

Waaah, looks like I was a deprived child too. My memories of childhood parties also involve pass the parcel and lots of sugar.
Clearly my parents were incredibly mean and now need to buy me my very own owl to make up for it.

Welsh Girl said...

Katyboo - you are in touch with your inner 5 year old! I am sending you an Origami owl post haste..... Now, here have a balloon and some sugar.

Bonnie-Ann - Hello! Now, I get the owl thing, but bats? Really? Ok, each to their own. I'm very jealous that you grew up in a house with a monkey. I thought I did, but it turned out to be my brother. Very disappointing.

Bevchen - shall we sue?

Home Office Mum said...

Now you see the parents of that party fell into the category of 'perfect'. They had healthy food and nice natural form of entertainment that would teach the children about the joys of nature. I'll bet their party bags were made out of recycled cardboard and contained seeds for the children to plant their own trees.

I used to be one of these parents (although I don't think I would ever put a bird of prey amongst a pack of over excitable 5 year olds - someone would lose an eye and I'm not sure whether it would be the kids or the bird).

As more birthdays pass, I feel myself sliding more towards the haribo mix and placky bags of tat type mother and I'm definitely a huge fan of the 'dump and run' technique as long as I'm the one dumping and running. Parents are NOT allowed to dump their children on me.

bonnie-ann black said...

yes, a monkey (not as pleasant as you would think) and a kinkajoo and many parrots inside the house! but compared to the 8 siblings, 3 cousins, a foreign exchange student, numerous foster children and a granny, far more quiet.

with the hoards already living inside the familial domain, the invitation of outsiders to children's parties were minimal... you might get to invite your best friend, and perhaps another relative or two would show up, but there wasn't any room for clowns (shudder), or magicians or people with other animals. matter of fact, people with other (i.e., normal) animals tended to avoid our house. as did normal people, come to think of it.


This makes me want to be back in Wales again. I took my 4 year old to a Super Hero party today. He went as Sportacus, a sports hero who fights against the attempts of Robbie Rotten to turn everyone in fictitious Lazy town into rotten lazy gits. His enthrallment and enthusiasm made me feel really old. I wanted to be 4 again....but then I remembered puberty and turning into a teenager. Now that made me feel glad to be 40. :-D

Welsh Girl said...

Bonnie Ann - what's your blog - I need to know more about this Waltons meets The Addams family life...

Almost Mrs Average, hmm - fair point. Can't I be five and then skip straight back to being 35 and miss out all the agonising bits? having said that there are a few things I would do differently if I got to go back and do it all again....

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