Since Goldilocks joined a little home school / unschool collective, she has made some new friends. One of them, who we’ll call Bat Girl, has become a regular addition to our family.
Today is Bat Girl’s birthday party. The girls are going under duress – not because they don’t want to do, and certainly not because they don’t want to see their friends. They do want to see their friends. They love their friends, and they know how much it will mean to everyone if they’re there. And if they’re not.
The thing is that they, like their parents, hate parties.
We love party food – crisps, cake, sweets … okay, not cake. Or sweets. None of the girls in this house like cake or sweets. But definitely crisps. And chocolate. Always chocolate.
And we love our friends.
We even love mad crazy dancing to fun music. We like to dress up. We like to play. We love to enjoy ourselves.
Parties offer none of these things. Especially kids parties. Kids parties are loud. There are lots of sugar-fuelled monsters tearing around chaotic spaces, screaming their heads off. The children are expected to play “fun” games with stupid rules and meaningless rewards, while the adults sit around and make “small talk”.
What is about children’s parties that turn a group of adults who – I am almost certain – are completely charming, interesting and intelligent people under normal circumstances – into a gaggle of gossipy old bores? And if you don’t know the people they know, the conversation is dull and hard to follow. And did I mention dull?
Besides the lack of context that comes with not being deeply immersed in the daily soap operas of the locals, for some reason kids’ parties always seem littered with that very special variant of human (one I go to enormous lengths to avoid): the smoking racist. I don’t mean smoking as some kind of adjective – either positive or negative. They’re not “smoking hot”, for instance. They’re not so racist that their ears are smoking … well, okay. Yes they are. But that’s not what I mean.
I’m referring to that most deeply annoying of small town stereotypes: the smoker, who is also rabidly racist. Or just generally bigoted. How are you supposed to have a conversation with someone like that without massive amounts of accusatory face leakage?
I wish I knew. I don’t.
My Tourette’s goes into overdrive: I can’t accept what they say, so I twitch. I don’t want to appear rude, so I twitch some more. I don’t want to appear to agree, either. Cue more twitching. I realise that my “resting bitch face” has morphed slightly into “judgey bitch face”. Which I also don’t want. Trying to adjust my face into something a lot more vague and opaque means even more twitching. And then they smoke in my face. I can’t breathe, I’m trying not to sneeze, my nose and eyes are streaming – and all the while they’re saying the most outrageous and insubstantiable (is that even a word??) things about people they don’t even know.
To make matters worse, this party is a dress up party. Now, I for one am all about dress up parties. I love them. (I think it’s some kind of control thing.) Red Riding Hood loves them, too. But Goldilocks and Papa Bear? Not so much. Cleverly enough, Red went to today’s party as Black Widow from X-Men fame. Really, it’s the perfect alter ego for her. Goldilocks bucked the system by going as an “innocent” bystander.
And I cheated by not going at all.
Yep. That’s how good a parent I am.