People like me shouldn’t throw parties. I’m far too fraught to be a host. But sadly if you want to make sure your kids will visit you in your twilight years then you need to throw a party for them every now and again.
Fortunately, Ray is miserable, like his father and me, (two negatives did not make a positive in his case) and he is satisfied with me taking him and his mates to the footy or the cinema. And up until now, Arnie and Mini had been content with family teas and shop-bought cake. Then, they started to go to different parties – and they saw what was out there – and boom, Arnie was desperate for a “proper” party for his fifth birthday. Shiiittt.
Surprising, husband who has the social skills of a hedgehog agreed. “Yeah,” he said. “As long as the fuckers don’t come to our home and wreck it.”
So I got organised. I outsourced it, naturellement. I found a Venue, entertainer, and food. It worked out about £10 a head. That is important. Each child had better be good value. I decided on the magic number 12, which take away my own three kids, was nine guests.
“Who do you want to invite?” Arnie is in reception and since he didn’t go to the local play school, I hardly know a soul at the school.
Arnie didn’t know. He had no idea who his mates were. Not a scooby. I tried to remember everyone I had ever heard of. But the kids Arnie talks about most are those who have been under “the Black Cloud.” I only wanted kids from under “The Sunshine” at the party. (£10 a head, remember?!)
“How about Johny?”
“Yeah,” he said doubtfully.
“I don’t like Stan.”
I sent out the invitations giving them three weeks to reply. Standard, so I thought. I made Arnie sign the card thus giving him much needed writing practice – boy, I was getting good at this parenting thing.
The next day, Arnie came home looking glum.
“Jennifer,” he said with doe-eyes. “Amelia. Arthur. Jack.”
“You want to invite them too?”
“Well, you can’t. We’ve reached the limit.”
And that’s where it got complicated.
So I sent out nine invites. Did I hear back? Did I shit. Two, let us call them, two Sunshine parents, texted the next day. Yes, blah, blah, would be delighted to come.
The rest. Silence. Radio Silence.
Now, I suppose you are thinking, that’s no surprise, no one likes you, and you could be right, but these people didn’t even know me. Surely, you have to know me to not like me?
They might not like Arnie, and you could be right, but he’s quite a nice kid. If it were Mini, yeah, I’d understand, but Arnie’s pretty inoffensive, he has never, ever been under the black cloud and he did get seventeen Christmas cards which was more than the rest of the family put together.
The problem was I couldn’t be certain why they had not replied and indeed if they had not replied.
a. Did they even get the invites? They were merely stuffed into the book bag. Still, the teacher is quite on-it and the cards weren’t in bag. Surely, she did not bin them?
b. Did I write my own phone number incorrectly? Hmm unlikely.
c. Did they fail to copy my phone number into their phones? Possibly.
d. Are they just bastards at keeping in touch? Very likely. (Particularly Black Cloud Max’s mother.)
Fortunately, Private investigators managed to track down two mothers and I kettled them at the school gate, direct, bish, bash, bosh. “Are you coming or not?” Both were quite sheepish. “Oh, I thought I had replied.”
“Did you really?” I said, shining the torch in their eyes.
“Yes,” they said nervously. “Anyway, the answer is yes, please…blah blah would love to come.”
So we had four yes’s, but still that was only four out of the nine. I had paid £120 for this! So I gathered the c-list, friends of mine whose kids were approximately 5. Well, they ranged from 12 to 2, but that’s ok and I asked them to come. But that meant I still was in danger of going over the sacred twelve. Quelle horreur.
I blockaded one further parent at the school gate the Friday before, “Oh no, sorry,” she said, “Didn’t we let you know?” “No you didn’t.” “oh.”And on the morning of the party, two people sent texts. Nope, their kids weren’t coming. Worse, they proceeded to give me gumpfy excuses – involving grandparents and spa dates and the like. At this late date I didn’t bloody care. “Thank you,” I didn’t reply, “Had you let me known earlier I could have invited someone else.” (Which in fact I had done, but still…it’s the principle of the thing, dammit)
The party went well, Arnie and his friends, had a ball, and there were no major hiccups. Still, at pick up time, I was under my own black cloud of resentment still seething at the three late respondents and the two who had simply disappeared into the ether. Feckers.
As I complained to my sister, she asked me if I had let some mutual friends know whether I was coming to their engagement party or not.
“What? Oh well, I’ve been really busy organising this hoo-haa for Arnie.”
“You slack arse,” she said, cheerfully.
So these have been my new years resolutions.
a. Always reply to invitations promptly
b. Never, ever, throw a party again.