19 Sep The Realistic Version of Events
The countdown has begun. Don’t panic. Here is what could happen, for real. Reading this will hopefully reassure you for once the time comes…
T-15 days. I decide to set the date for Felix’s birthday party. I’m going to talk to Felix about it first. It’s time to make a list. I decide that we must find the invitations.
T-14 days. Based on my decisions made the day before, I go ahead and order the invitations.
T-13 days. I pray that they come quickly.
T-12 days. The very organised Mums hand out all of the party invitations a month before the event is due to take place.
T-12 days. Continued. I sit myself next to Felix and we make a list. There are going to be 15 guests – 15, not bad, we could do group games. I don’t know what gave me this idea, I must have read it somewhere.
T-11 days. The invitations have arrived. We start to fill them out. Felix insists on filling them out himself – this is going to take forever.
T-10 days. It takes two evenings to get them all done. The invitations are ready.
T-9 days. I start giving out the invitations. The teacher explains to me that I’ll need to handle things myself, as you are not allowed to give out the invitations in class. Cases of jealousy arise, the children can’t understand why they haven’t received an invitation… My anxiety levels rise. I don’t know any of the 15 children and I don’t speak to their parents.
T-8 days. I have 10 invitations left to give out. On the way to school, Felix manages to find 3 more friends to invite. That means we’re up to 18 children. Help.
T-7 days. It’s now Saturday – I have a huge moment of realisation. I have a think : 8 invitations already given out, 18 children invited, rubbish weather, an apartment which isn’t really that big, a husband that is quite frankly unavailable, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do.
T-7 days. Continued. What does the internet have to say ? This leads me off in all different directions although they all seem to agree on the same thing: hand out the invitations 3 weeks before the event, keep the number of guests the same as your child’s age… It would seem that I have veered away from the rules of the game.
T-6 days. I take things back into my own hands.
– Felix, what would you like to do for your birthday party, my darling ?
– Ahhhh, fantastic ! Let’s do that.
I am actually quite excited by this idea. For a pirate party, you need pirates, well organised ideas, treasure, well organised ideas. It would seem that all I have are the pirates…
T-5 days. I get together all the email addresses of all the children’s parents. I send a group email so that now they’re all invited.
T-4 days. I decide to take a break. I take on the role of The Mentalist. I have a long, deep think. I dream of ships, skulls, buried treasure, battening down the hatches and manning the anchor.
T-3 days. I think that I’m letting it get to me more than needs be. I need to take back the reins. This is only a birthday party after all and there will be many more in the yaers to come. Back in the game.
T-2 days. Time to shop: sweets, juice, fizzy drinks, sweets and more sweets. I think that’ll be everything. I find pictures of pirates and treasure and a load of other things from the web. I print them out, we’ll be able to use them.
T-1 day. I’m preparing the pirate cake. I’m a little rusty in the kitchen and Felix doesn’t eat many things, so we’ll keep it simple. I’ll make a chocolate cake based on a scene from playmobile pirates. It can’t be that hard can it ? I have new-found faith in myself. The first moment of euphoria ! I get out what I have printed the day before. A huge moment of solitude – it is now 11pm.
7h00. Felix is up. In great shape. This is absolutely not the case for everyone.
7h05. Felix asks me when his friends are going to arrive. This is going to be a long day.
7h10. Felix uncovers his cake, he’s over the moon. The first gamble has paid off. He decides to go ahead and decorate the apartment with all things “pirate”. This is perfect, I suggest that he makes an island, a beach, some pirate attacks…
7h15. I on the other hand have a little nap.
9h30. When I emerge, the room has been completely transformed into a Playmobil Fun Park. I just haven’t got any forces of persuasion. Now we are going to make a little bit of space for the friends.
10h30. We make some space, we set the table with the basics, blow up some of the balloons which we deck out in eyepatches, moustaches and scars. Essentially, we make a balloon pirate ! Is it just me that has had this ingenious idea ?
11h. I hide the treasure around the house for the upcoming treasure hunt.
11h30. I’ve already forgotten where I’ve hidden the treasure, so I start all over again whilst carefully taking notes.
12h. I make up a buffet around my cake. I’m really not in the best position to fit 18 children around the table.
12h05. The number has dropped down to 17. Martin has the flu.
12h07. We are now down to 16. Justine happens to be ill. I don’t have all the details.
12h15. They’re dropping like flies – we’re now at 15: Raoul isn’t feeling very well. I’m absolutely thrilled ! (Hope they feel better soon !)
12h16. Felix feels the effects: it’s such a shame, without Martin, it will not be the same.
12h30. Lunchtime. Felix can no longer sit still. But we have two and a half hours to go. I suggest a little timeout. Felix looks at me with a funny expression. I suggest a little session of “Pirates of the Caribbean”.
13h. I prepare the 15 gift bags. I don’t have the gift bags – great ! I am forced to improvise. Freezer bags will do the trick.
15h. They arrive. There’s a lot of them. They take up a lot of room. We sit ourselves down, I introduce myself. I sense that I’m very involved. We’re doing a pirate party. Make two teams of pirates.
15h05. Some of the children look at me with a puzzled expression. This puts me off a bit. I’m an adult and therefore I decide – I know what to do. Therefore, two teams. The “Red Beards” and the “Calico Jacks”. I make the most from tweaking the story.
15h06. Anaïs, Louison and Léon yawn. Edgar’s excited. Oscar cuts me off halfway through my sentence to make some clarifications. Marcel has managed to wage a war with Felix because they don’t agree on how to pronounce Jack Sparrow…
15h08. It’s time to play. Two teams please. No need for it to get heated. They’re already a bit tense.
15h30. We stop the team games. I’d quite like to finish this day alive. Felix isn’t a very good loser – he’s in tears. We need to find a game that’s going to bring everyone together.
15h31. I improvise with a little party.
15h32. I am so good at this !
15h45. They’re thirsty.
15h50. I try a new tactic.
15h51. I ask my husband to discretely set up the candles. Marcel makes the most out of jumping from the sofa to the coffee table. I stop suddenly. I have forgotten the candles.
15h52. I give myself a good telling off. Edgar has now joined Marcel on the sofa. They’re causing chaos.
15h53. I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself. The number of children jumping on the sofa is growing at the same rate as my stress levels.
15h54. My husband decides to take things into his own hands. He sends me out to the shops to find the candles. I feel completely relieved.
16h. I hesitate to go back home. Finally, I take the plunge. They’re calm. They’re listening dutifully to my husband. I must be hallucinating. They’re playing “Chinese whispers”.
16h10. Teatime. I sit myself down on the floor while telling them to dream that they’re on a beach, on an island and that they’re pirates, they’re celebrating their victory, they’re dividing up the treasure, the drinks are flowing like water, the music is somehow reaching the moon… and we’re believing it !
16h30. Treasure hunt. I’m telling a story. Again. I spin it out for as long as I possibly can. I tell them about a pirate called “The Buzzard” which has hidden his loot in the sandy beaches of an island and which left his predecessors a coded message telling them where they could find it. And so, the adventure begins.
17h. We still have one hour to go.
17h01. I suggest a game of pictionary – pirate style. I’m thoroughly exhausted.
17h15. I suggest that we sing some songs. Recite some little poems. Tell some stories…
17h30. Edgar and Marcel continue to test out my sofa and my patience. Felix has a sulk. He wants to open his presents.
17h31. Right let’s open the presents. What a struggle. They all want to be the first one to give him a present. Why ??? Felix opens them and then goes onto the next one in a frenzied manner. Why ???
17h45. I take stock. I leave them to go to the Holy Grail aka Felix’s bedroom.
18h. The parents arrive. I don’t offer for them to come in for a glass of wine. I’m not going to make them stay.
18h01. Some of the parents want details… I say that they have all been very good. I get the impression that they’ve taken on board the false smile stuck on my face.
18h30. Our apartment is finally back to normal. I’m shattered. I discover Felix’s bedroom. …. I’ve blacklisted Edgar and Marcel. I’m just so exhausted. I sleep amongst all the confetti and wrapping paper.
T+2. I take Felix to school. Why are the children all looking at me ? They said that it was great, and that I was too kind and that they would love to come back to our house. I’m absolutely thrilled, I’ve pulled it off !
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