Birthday party season has well and truly landed. Since most of the spuds friends are children whom we met at various baby classes, antenatal classes and various other activities involving children calculated to be within a few months of his age, it is therefore unsurprising that they are all turning two around the same time.
This raises several problems in our little toddler world, questions surrounding birthday party presents; birthday party clothes; birthday party manners and dealing with birthday party sugar rushes. All these however pale into the paintwork when stood beside the big one... birthday party competitions.
I'm not talking the sort of competition where small children race giggling around a row of kitchen chairs. No, I'm talking about the unspoken competition between Mums which surrounds all aspects of Putting On A Birthday Party. Who bakes the best cake? Who lays on the best spread? Who has the nicest house? Who gives out the nicest party bags? Who, in other words, is the Best Mum. And, if you think I'm joking here, you are clearly Not A Parent.
We decided very early on in the stakes to opt out of all this madness by holding the spud's birthday in the park every year however at only the second go at this strategy we were rained right into our house... a house, I may add, which is in fact only a small apartment, which was not prepped with balloons or streamers or long tables laden with party food. Not that there's room in our place for a long table laden with party food but... well, you get my drift. We also opted not to go for any party bags - or at least, not until the spud is at an age where his friends will be expecting one. The result was that we had a sort of one-cheeked affair. Yes, there was cake and mmm... there was sort-of some nibbly bits and mmm... well we had the marquee up in the garden and... mostly, there was mud and chaos and over-excited children with nowhere to run. And beer, because the Frog and the Daddy of the spud's co-birthday party boy decided that there was Not Enough Beer and rather than purchase chocolates or fairy cakes or any sort of useful birthday party extras when they realised the whole shebang would be at our place, they just went out and bought so much beer that the jelly had to be exiled out onto the counter to go all limp before everyone arrived.
The problem is that now we have been to several other parties, it is clear that we have badly let down our little spud. Party bags are a must, even though parents stand around openly discussing that they simply eat all the treats from the bags themselves and only let their little darlings play with the kinder toys and the bouncy balls AFTER the danger of chocolate has been removed. Fairy cakes are also a must and even at two, games and entertainment should abound - toys, balls, a play table... Chairs, chairs come into it as well, apparently one should have enough chairs in the house. And table cloths, I've seen some good use of table cloths. And the Mum should look as though she's made at least some sort of effort in the face department.
At least we managed to hype the kids up on sugar to the requisite levels, but I'm guessing that that's the easy part. I don't know. Next time I'll be off to Frog's place to order lovely party bags but if anyone has any ideas on how to wow 'em at a three-year old's party, kindly leave them here for me to rummage through for next year.