Motherhood hasn’t come naturally to Daisy Leverington. Exactly five years in and she remains wide-eyed, terrified and in awe of the little person she’s responsible for. This week the rain pissed all over her little lass’s birthday celebrations. They still won though.
This was our daughter’s first birthday party, and it was wonderful.
July 2016: the UK is splintered, cracked down its seams, while the preparations for the Rio Olympics take place under a cloud of accusations and disinterest. Meanwhile 30 sugar-crazed five-year-olds take shelter under a tree as the rain soaks through the handmade decorations at our girl’s fifth birthday hooplah. Nothing is relaxing any more.
What a difference four years makes, eh? And how it has flown. Our daughter had counted down from 124 days to her birthday, each time asking ‘is that long?’ as we slowly notched off the days until she turned five. Yes, it is long, to answer that question.
With each passing party her expectations grew. Could we have a magician, a Spiderman, a disco, a science lady, a real Elsa, a foam machine, strobe lights, an elephant, everything she’s ever seen and more and put glitter on it, please.
We settled for a fairy picnic, since we couldn’t afford the hefty prices at the soft play centres, and even though we both do kids’ birthday party entertainment, we decided we would try to enjoy ourselves and relax at this one. We live opposite a park; location sorted.
Oh, we were so naive. There are REASONS why parents book other people to do these things, other places for the children to run riot. GOOD, SOLID REASONS.
As the day came around, so did the clouds, and then the torrential rain. We were optimistic and never gave up hope for a two-hour dry spell in which to throw biscuits at children and wine at parents.
Two o’clock arrived, as did all the children in her class. Some had bravely stuck to the fairy and elf dress code, some had abandoned it in favour of winter coats and hats. These were the children who stayed the longest.
The park took on a Glastonbury feel fairly quickly. The music was shite, the ground turned to mud, parking was a nightmare and there were people off their faces on the park benches.
Our house still looks like it’s an hour into a game of Jumanji. The tents we had put up became awash with parents and children, bearing presents and worried expressions.
We ushered some into our house, some into the tents, and I’m not sure where the others went but there’s a decent pub on the corner and I wouldn’t have blamed them.
As you would expect with a typically wet British summer picnic, we buttoned up and made the best of it, and our kid loved every minute. The Costco pizza went down a storm, the cake was shared and enjoyed, and we are still finding unopened presents a week later.
I truly salute every parent who braved the weather and came for a mud party with the skint folks. I now understand why people pay other people to do this for them. I finally understand.
I’ve already started saving for next year, where I will pay someone an untold fortune to entertain the children in a place that isn’t my home, which is indoors, away from local ‘characters’, and which employs a liberal use of disposable kitchenware.
And if anyone left a cat here by accident last week, it’s still here. It’s healthy and we’re feeding it, but seriously, come and pick it up now; our kid is starting to think it’s a birthday present. Shit, maybe it was.
Read all of Daisy’s Motherhood columns here.
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Daisy Leverington - Actor, mother, expert at winging it.