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Children’s party etiquette?

This post was inevitable from the moment I started blogging.

It’s time to say the immortal words.

In my day….

So here goes, in my day birthday parties normally happened at someone’s house, with a magic man (always a bit suspect), or a Punch and Judy show (highly politically incorrect) and a few games; pass the parcel, musical bumps, and a birthday tea with some jelly, sandwiches and pink wafer biscuits.

No one ever ate the cake, it was always put in the ‘going home bag’.  Then probably eaten by my mother or one of my sisters.  For some really odd reason cake was never big on my list of things I wanted to eat as a child.  How things change.

But today I took the toddler and the baby to a birthday party.  At a ‘children’s play centre’.  Soft play on acid is the only way to describe it.  The other mums were lovely and I did what I normally do in situations where I don’t know anyone, just walked up to complete strangers and said hello using my children as social currency (shallow I know).  When I eventually did this enough times I found some people who were there for the same party as me….

I had a nice time chatting to the other mums, some of whom had toddlers who knew mine.  Well clearly, otherwise what the hell would we have been doing there right?  Clearly our nanny normally does the socialising whilst I’m at work and I had a latent worry that everyone would think she was much better with my children than I was.  But I put that out of my head quickly.  Pointless.

The toddler had fun, the baby was adored and coo’d over and after an hour and half or so we left with promises to meet up for playdates.  Lovely.

But it made me think.  Is there some sort of new rule book for children’s parties?  Is having them over to your house with a dodgy magic man and some jelly not the done thing anymore?  I mean when I was a kid we didn’t have ‘playdates’ we just went round to play.  I can’t help thinking it’s all going to be a bit of a maze to navigate.

Although I can absolutely see the widsom of ‘outsourcing’ your children’s party.  Think of the mess you are saving, the crayon on the wall, squashed raisins on the floor, food to prepare (even if it is just organic carrot sticks these days), and imaginative games to come up with.  God you might even have to get involved in musical bumps yourself, while I have more than enough cushioning the thought of that is not appealing.

I guess in some ways, many ways, our parents had it better.  It was a bit more ‘cosy’ and low key.  Homemade ice lollies were a treat and when the Soda Stream came along we couldn’t believe our luck!  Nowadays kids seem to wise up to marketing pretty quickly.  And if this was the bar that has been set for a 3 year old’s birthday party, then what will they expect as they get older?  Premiere tickets to the latest Twilight movie?

As with everything in child rearing, I’m learning as I go.  Trial and error mostly.  And as with most things in child rearing, I’m hoping the inspiration and instinct will kick in when it has to.  So far it seems to be doing a reasonable job.

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