Tricky things children’s birthday parties. Cake, crying, burst balloons and shit tea.
Our Wee Girl is nearly three and as such many of her “friends” have decided to celebrate the day of their birth.
I used to get a pass, but now Wee Man is here assistance is required and we all go.
Driving for an hour (how do we know these people? Wee Girl needs to pick closer friends), doing everything we can to stop Wee Girl falling asleep and arriving at the party in Kraken mode.
Once the wind battered balloons have been spotted it begins… balloons that used to fill me with joy but now they only bring about a sense of dread.
Parked. All awake and alive.
We enter the fray.
Here it is. All the effort and planning of a wedding where all the guests are drunk uncles and it looks shit.
I quickly assess the scene. What activities are going to occur? Where is the toilet? Which live wires are going to try and talk to me? Where can I sit down? The floor? Excellent.
Now I get kids. I teach small children. I know how to be fun. But I am not “the Fun Dad”.
We all know the type, 6 children hanging off every limb, energetically throwing himself down foam slides, swigging coffee with one, shoeless leg, on a chair whilst laughing about the these crazy kids.
No I am not that guy. I choose not to be. If you are too fun then suddenly two 6 year olds and an army of toddlers become your BFFs and they are generally the obnoxious ones that know you can’t tell them off.
No…too fun and you become the Pied Piper of Pissed Pants.
So I aim for just the right level of funness where my own child is having a good time but no others try and jump on board the Fun Train.
It’s all about blocking eye contact. If you make eye contact for 0.5 seconds with someone else’s child you’ve essentially adopted them. I have tried wearing horse blinkers but they just invite more attention.
Then there are the other Dads. Other poor souls (bar Fun Dad he’s a dick) that have been corralled and cajoled into attending this snooze fest.
There are several types:
- Fun Dad (dick)
- Silent protest Dad
- Phone Dad
- Friends with the Mums Dad
- Camera Dad (did I say you could take pictures of my child?)
- Uncomfortable Dad
- Creepy Dad
- Semi Fun but don’t talk to me Dad (me and most others)
Now silent Dad has set out his stall and nobody will attempt to rock it. Phone Dad feels guilty but the WWW is so much more enthralling than Super Fun Bouncy World. Friends with the Mums Dad is probably trying to have it off (not really I’m just jealous). Camera Dad brings out his inner David Bailey and is rapidly filling his phone memory with pap. Uncomfortable Dad does not need you to check he’s ok, he is not ok, but talking to him will make it worse. Creepy Dad is generally plucking cheese on a stick off a tray with his massively long fingers whilst quietly telling his child “eat my precious”.
The last one, Semi Fun Dad, is the most common. We try a bit but we don’t want anything to do with you or your filthy, germ ridden offspring.
Semi Fun Dad’s greatest fear is being trapped in a small soft play enclosure with another Semi Fun Dad.
You both pray your children will simply barge past each other. For if they don’t you will have to engage in the “y’alright head nod”.
This serious manoeuvre is usually only forced out with neighbours, friend’s partners and someone you’ve seen outside twice.
But in a soft play situation once this has been used, there is very little to call upon afterwards. A half smile maybe? Focus your full eye contact on and dive after your child? Laugh quietly under your breath together at these darn kids? Maybe even “what are they like eh?!” (nobody enjoys that)
But you sure as shit cannot strike up a proper conversation inside a 6x6x4 foot netted dungeon.
If you encounter any of the other Dad types in this situation you can ignore them guilt free and even judge them a little. But when you come across another Semi Fun Dad you have to acknowledge with a mute head nod and move on quickly before it accelerates to “y’alright”.
Dads aside there is another major danger at birthday parties. Peter the little shit. He might not be called Peter, but I’ll bet he is a little shit. He might not even be a boy, but it will still be a little shit.
Where is Peter’s handlers whilst he is ragging other children down the slide? Where are they when he is eating the birthday cake long before it is cut? Where are they when he is hiding in the ball pit and punching unsuspecting fellow pitters?
I’ll tell you where they are. Having 30 minutes rest from the little shit.
They’ve made their parenting choices and they were the wrong ones.
They know they’ve raised a little monster, but they don’t know what to do now so they are hiding behind the ham sandwiches desperately hoping that screaming has nothing to do with them.
I used to hate Peter’s parents. Now I feel sorry for them. Simple solution all round; hide from Peter like his handlers.
The next danger is Dick Head Mum (it could be Dad but I’ve yet to see it) You know the Mum whose voice you can hear throughout the entire hellish two hours. “Is this gluten free? We are all GF now you know…Darling, darling, darling, it will be your turn in a minute, yes, that boy who only just got on will get off now as I am indirectly shaming him to do so, yes, yes, see? He’s gone now, another win for us!” (if you feel like you might be Dickhead Mum, fear not, Dickhead Mum wouldn’t think like that)
She’s here, she’s there, she’s every bloody where. You wonder how you can hate someone so much and yet feel indifferent about many of the world’s dictators.
The last and final challenge is singing happy birthday. It’s a double pronged problem. First of all you need to make sure your child gives a shit about singing happy birthday. The lure of cake generally gets them there.
Secondly you have to decide whether you are going to A) sing B) mutter or C) mime. All bring their own risks.
Singing means you are joining in. That is what your partner wants you to do. Join in. But the chances are there aren’t many Dad’s there and they will be probably being doing B) or C) so your baritone voice will stand out like a knob in a flower shop.
Muttering provides best of both worlds but anyone next you will be thinking your heart isn’t in it.
Miming is the ideal choice although you need a big crowd to pull it off.
Whichever you pick you will most likely turn into Uncomfortable Dad or indeed Fun Dad (dick)
Why don’t they serve beer at these things?