Christmas and the New Year is a dangerous time in our house.
Because about 9 months later, we tend to come home from the hospital with a baby.
Christmases in recent years mean that if you are stood next to either my husband or I as the party host goes round kindly topping up the bubbly, and my glass is the last filled from a bottle, you should be prepared for either my husband or I to wrestle that bottle rudely out of the hosts hand and shake every last, single, tiny drop out of it and in to your Champagne flute. Much like I will not say Father Christmas doesn’t exist (even though I am actually in fact him), I will not mock those old wives and their old tales. The last drop from a bottle of wine invites a baby in to your lives, apparently. *shakes finger and nods vigourously*. No way jose. September is expensive enough.
Alex and Ed are 23 months and 2 weeks apart in age. When Alex was just 2 weeks old, I was throwing a heavily themed, heavily catered for children’s party for 20 children in my house. Was I mental? Well. Yes. Er, actually, I was a bit (*sad music…perhaps some Nora Jones*). I was also on a LOT of drugs and painkillers (*trippy music…the Prodigy*).
Now off the prozac and considered “normal” again (no sniggers, please), and minus the surgery pain killers they took away from me a few weeks after Alex was born, I would appreciate a temporary prescription for both these things for the last week in August and the first 2 weeks in September. But the doctors say no.
But, luckily for me the Supermarkets are still doing their “special offers”. The one time of the year the big 5 throw parents a life line is during the summer holidays. Under the pretence of their boozey offers being for “Summer BBQ’s!” and “Bank Holiday Fun!”, us parents all know that the Supermarket marketing teams are fully aware it is the end of the summer holidays and mummy and daddy need alcohol.
So this year my husband and I set ourselves a task. This year would not involve themed parties in our home. Because we are so Goddammed brilliant and so fabulously popular and amazing, NCT mates + playschool buddies + the random local parents I befriend + our familes = a lot of people in a semi-detatched house. So, we thought – we will hire a hall! Everyone says how cheap hiring a musty old village hall is! And we will hire a bouncy castle! Yes! A bouncy castle! The kids can go mental on it, bounce off the walls quite literally like it is some kind of groovy, trippy, insane asylum.
“I know!” I think, “I will go to poundland, spend 20 quid on crisps and biscuits and dilute my orange squash down to the colour (and taste most likely) of bath water. Job done!”.
As I am googling bouncy castle hire and wondering whether “Big Time Bouncers” (actual, real name I swear it) are actually a Bouncy Castle hire company or a poorly catalogued nightclub protection firm, my husband is looking online for bouncy castles to buy. THAT IS NOT A CHEAP OPTION, DARLING! *gritted teeth*. By the time I find an online hire company that doesn’t sound like a security firm or breast enhancement clinic, he has worked out a financial breakdown and business plan for how, eventually, after 8 billion parties;
“The bouncy castle will just pay for itself, Han!”
And as his little eyes gleam greedily with dreams of a Bouncy Castle Empire, I delete his Word document.
Anyway…my spirits are lifted from knowing Ed’s aspirations for a party are pretty low key and achievable. He made me a “party” the other week, spending 30 minutes doing so. When I was finally allowed to the “party”, my “party” was watching him on a climbing frame, whilst he did the occasional pointy toe and eye-lid flutter. Meanwhile, Alex got naked and threw sand about. His “party” was a party Prince Harry might like.
The boys were incredibly fortunate and received truly wonderful gifts. But as one of them gets older, the toy’s get smaller and more expensive, and therefore more easily swallowed by his brother .
Looking nervously at a packet of plastic lentils which came with Ed’s truly marvellous and amazing Playmobil farm set (for the hopper), I am heckled and called “a worryguts” and “boring” by 2 little boys who never really grew up (Smudge and his 31 year old brother).
“Don’t be so souless, Hannah! It’s a great accessory!” said my brother in law cheerfully, throwing the bag of plastic lentils at his girlfriend…where upon it landed with a smack and burst in to a billion plastic choking hazards all over the sofa.
I can’t help but feel fabulously smug.
“Oh no!” says my sister-in-law ” The lentils have gone all under the sofa!” and she gets down on her knees to scoop the little beady beans up and out of harms (aka Alex’s) way
“Oh no!” she says, in a voice that sounds like she is reprimanding herself for her poor supervision duties over the boys new birthday toys “Loads of toys have made their way under the sofa this morning!” and flattens herself flat like Flat Stanley to gather things from underneath our sofa.
Moving sort of like when, you know, just saying, your mum almost finds your packet of fags in your bag when you are younger when your mum doesn’t actually know that you smoke the odd one, I moved pretty bloody quickly and went
as she says
“Oh look!” holding something small and brown and definately not from the Playmobil toy line between her fingers
“It’s a…really old, rotton, manky raisen”.
The horror. The shame. The facts of life…life quite literally forming underneath my lounge furniture. As I tried to distract from the ecosystem growing underneath our furniture by wofting about the house offering house guests a “Wild and Whippy” (which just felt wrong)
the kids were happily playing and eating their toys, still buzzing slightly from the squash they had made in to “Squash Slammers” as one mother at the party said (my kids are not even normally allowed squash – what was I thinking?!) and I think, I just think, we pulled off a good kiddy rave.