Maddy and Alfie decided on ‘proper’ parties this year ie. get your cheque book out, no pass the parcel. Maddy’s was first, so on Saturday night Alan and I were under lock and key in the kitchen of the local hall with strict instructions to be neither seen nor heard. The children hollered ‘Your Sex is on Fire’ on the other side of the shutter - it was a disco, what do you expect? - but soon Alan’s nosey side got the better of him and dolled up as he was in his best check shirt, extra Tuff Stuff on the remaining strands, he emerged rather brazenly from the kitchen to take his chances on the dance floor, and get a better look at the glamorous girls and idiot boys, returning to me rather surprised that no-one had wanted to talk to him. Well, we had a whole hour to talk to each other in the kitchen, so Alan went for a long walk and I fiddled with my phone until the coast was clear and Maddy let us out to scrape chocolate butter cream off the floor, lug everything home and then be neither seen nor heard there, while she had her sleepover.
Forty-eight packets of Sensations was just enough to give the kids a treat, judging from the crumbs left for me in case I got any funny ideas about sitting down any time this life. At 3.15am in the morning, while the rest of the world thought sleep not a bad idea (including Alan) the girls were bouncing each other on the floor above my head and howling because it was so DAMNED funny that I had to say things to them you only think of when you’re really serious about stopping really serious fun.
Rising refreshed three hours later to start the usual one thousand point turn putting everything back where I put it back the same time the day before, and to prepare for Alfie's party, I realised with horror I’d forgotten his party bags. Goody! A Sunday morning trip to Sports Direct, doubling as quality needling time on the bus for Alfie and Bonnie, since Alan was, with regret, required at the golf course or his name would be mud (I could think of others). I guess it’s best at least one of us keeps their work-life balance in perfect working order.
We returned from our shopping jolly to find the kitchen coated in green pancake mixture. This day was turning into one big laugh! I smiled – those girls have been up to something! I waited for a scene change in the teen flick they were watching in the other room to enquire, begging your pardon ma’am, whether any help was on offer with the green kitchen. ‘I have cleared up’ said Maddy, and silly me, she was right, for there in the sink, was a dirty frying pan! I took up my default position under the kitchen table, starting with syrup-covered lemon pips, moving onwards and upwards, until there was a clear space just big enough to fill with lunch time.
And then it was Alfie's turn - a Circus Skills party with the lovely Nathan, Alan on duty as host ('I think the boys would like a man there' was the best I could come up with). I was at home pretending it took an hour to open the jammie dodgers for the buffet tea that I hoped would encourage mixing if any of Alfie’s guests were shy. I swung wide the door - ‘Hi boys, jackets go-’ - picked myself up off the floor in time to see the last of them catapult into the back garden whereupon an hour of violence and intimidation to man, beast, and tomato plant took place. I ventured out with pizza but gave up after the second football knocked me sideways, and set up a first aid post inside, Alan singing Happy Birthday with me as a duet through the cat flap to anyone who would listen. Happy Birthday one and all