herald

Monday 11 December 2017

One year on and the party nearly kills me

I was at a birthday party recently. It wasn't a wild one and I was safely home by three. That's PM by the way, not AM. The host was just one year old and, to be honest, he didn't look like he was having a great time. He seemed bewildered by the adults drinking beer and champagne while his older siblings fought with his cousins over who could play with his presents.

I had been thinking about throwing a party for baby Gary's first birthday but, after that, I decided we'd have a low-key celebration at home. Just the two of us. Babies don't remember their first birthdays and he hasn't made any friends yet. Did I want to invite my own friends around in his honour? Not particularly.

On the morning of his birthday I gave my son a teddy, but he ignored his new furry friend and tried to eat the wrapping paper instead. So much for that.

Then a friend phoned asking what I was doing for Gary's birthday. I felt momentarily guilty. "I'm having a little party," I lied. "Just a very quiet one." I didn't mention that I hadn't actually invited any guests.

"Well, I've a little present for him," she said, "so I'll call over with my two to give it to him. Does 4.30pm suit?"

It didn't suit at all. That's when Gary and I usually watch Judge Judy in bed, but I didn't say that. Instead, I found myself pretending to be delighted.

Then my sister rang.

"Is it Gary's birthday?'"

"Eh, yes. How nice of you to remember."

"What time is everyone calling at?"

I felt my heart lurch. "Around four-ish."

Then mum called and said she and dad were looking forward to the party.

Oh God, I thought, all these people were arriving for a non-existent party and I'd nothing prepared. I started baking madly. At least if I had a few cupcakes on offer, it would look like I'd made an effort.

Then I found an old 'Get Well Soon' balloon in a cupboard along with a half packet of birthday candles. I blew up the balloon and stuck it on the gate. Big mistake. The neighbours were round in a flash enquiring about our health.

I assured them everything was fine and they too were invited to the party. A tin of Quality Street left over from Christmas saved the day and kept the kids happy. We sang Happy Birthday and nobody seemed to notice my flustered face.

Next year I'll be more organised.

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