It loomed like a ghostly pirate ship on a misty night; Scarlet’s second birthday party approached. You can’t out run it; you can’t out maneuver it. This is an event where you just have to stand and fight.
First birthdays are great. The baby, quite frankly, doesn’t even have to be there. It’s a day to have a BBQ, a few beers, some chilled champagne and little sandwiches with the crusts cut off – all done while the conveniently penned-in babies nap or roll about. Second birthdays are different.
Missy walks and talks. She has opinions on things. Granted these ‘things’ are generally the dilemma of rice bubbles v corn flakes, but she does want to start controlling aspects of her life. The other day she picked out her own clothes, which totally threw my wife. I brought Missy out, and I was eyed suspiciously. Her clothes all matched – clearly I was not involved in the decision process.
We had to factor in many things for her birthday celebration: would there be a tantrum for no apparent reason? Would her love of butterflies (the party theme) change to pathological hatred the day before? Then the age-old problem: would the party clash with other parties? Of course, the wives took control, and all children had their celebrations in vaguely the right order, with no double bookings.
The day duly arrived, and it duly rained, so outdoor activities were shuffled indoors and food for 75 people was rearranged for the 20 guests. Men, please don’t argue about women and their genetic need to over-cater, that’s just how it has to be, accept it.
The first hurdle passed cleanly. Missy was OK to wear her prettiest party dress. Personally I had been preparing for her to insist on going nude – and maybe we could negotiate her into a nappy, but she was in a benevolent mood and looked adorable.
Into the mix, was added a baker’s dozen or so of other 2 year olds, all looking for trouble. This was a recipe for disaster. Small children plus sugary treats – if you could harness that energy, fossil fuels could stay firmly in the ground.
Missy had a firm grasp of what was going on. We had been practicing singing Happy Birthday, and she knew this was something special, and she was queen for a day. As the father, I had a couple of sacred duties. I was tasked with ensuring there was enough alcohol to fuel the parents of the other two year olds, and I was placed in charge of the bouncy castle. Somehow, no child ended up with a beer, and no adult was allowed entry into the castle. Admittedly, it was more good luck than good management.
Missy enjoyed the singing and made an impressive attempt at blowing out the candles. My sincere apologies if you were there and got the piece with dribble on it.
And so despite our pre-party fear, the afternoon was a spectacular success and quite sadly, came to an end. Toddler parties have to end reasonably quickly, as there is an exceptionally fine line between sugar rush fun and post sugar rush train-smash.
The next day, happy that the party was a winner, we sat down amongst the ruins of our lounge room, and Missy poured us pretend tea from an impossibly small tea set. Our baby is growing up.