I got a wake-up call at the weekend. It states the obvious in many ways, but I remembered that I have a young child and I discovered that entertaining a group of kids for two hours during a birthday party is not easy.
No, no, no, I haven’t discovered that I absently minded sired a child and forgot about him or her. I simply got a wake-up call about the capabilities of Izzy, my four year old, and her little friends.
It was her birthday a few weeks ago and, a little belatedly, we held a party to mark the occasion. In previous years, both for Izzy and her older sister Helen, we’ve hired a kids’ entertainer.
Although expensive, it does relieve the stress and also gives both Mrs Adams and I the chance to mingle and talk to other mums and dads. This, I believe, is especially important in our kind of family as us stay at home dads don’t have as many chances to meet parents as our female counterparts. A birthday party is the one place where I get to meet and mingle freely with both mums and dads.
This year was different. Deciding we needed to save money in this age of austerity, we were going to lay on the entertainment ourselves.
Only thing is, we were a bit disorganised. We didn’t get the food until the very last minute and so the plan was for me to entertain the kids with various party games while Mrs Adams prepared sandwiches and so on.
For almost two hours straight I had to entertain Izzy’s friends. Things didn’t quite go to plan, however, and I couldn’t honestly tell you how many children were in that room.
We were expecting 11 children but someone had a childcare crisis so had to come with two kids. Someone else unexpectedly came with an older sibling and a child we had no recollection of inviting arrived bearing gifts. In addition to this, one kid dropped out at the last minute while another child, who we didn’t think had received their invite because they’d left the nursery to start school, did turn up (…with their eight-month sister in tow).
I had to entertain a group of children aged from eight months to seven years in age. It was utterly chaotic.
What’s the Time Mr Wolf kind of worked, although I was amazed there were no injuries when the kids ran off. Pass the Parcel was also reasonably successful, but it did require some firm policing as there were times it threatened to go awry. For some reason the kids absolutely loved Sleeping Lions and we had to play it over and over and over again, although none of them got the rules and kept looking under the sheet to see who was hiding underneath.
I made at least one child cry by enforcing the rules of Musical Chairs. As for Musical Statues, well I’d just given up by this point. I just played music, paused it and vaguely pointed at someone saying “I think you’re out.”
As the kids were very young, almost all the mums and dads stayed. I have to say that doing all this in front of the parents was quite a challenge as I felt like I was on show.
I was utterly drained after the experience and felt like I had done an awful job. Mrs Adams and the other parents, however, reassured me it had gone well (I remain to be convinced) and said the kids had enjoyed themselves.
Going back to the statement I had made at the beginning, it was a fascinating experience being in a room with so many young kids. As a family, we are, of course, used to hosting play dates and having other kids around. Izzy, however, is our youngest child and as she grows up, we kind of forget how much help little people who are younger than her sometimes need.
We had to make constant reminders about visiting the toilet, help the kids pour drinks and so on. One or two kids didn’t have their mums or dads around and they needed comforting. It’s the total reverse for our eight-year-old, Helen, who wants you to go the second she’s been dropped off at a party.
The biggest lesson of all? I think next time we’re going to find the money for an entertainer.