We had the Princessâ€™s birthday party on Sunday. It was brutal. Unlike everything else in my experience, childrenâ€™s birthday parties are always worse than one fears. A week beforehand we sat down with the Princess and asked her who from her class she wanted to invite. She named 8 children, two of whom we had never heard of. Mr. Waffle designed invitations and sent them out into the world (via the classroom assistant) with an RSVP note. We got 4 replies, 3 yes and 1 no. Four children didnâ€™t reply at all which I think is appalling. It also makes me sad because, clearly, the Princessâ€™s party wasnâ€™t first on their priority lists.
So, all the kiddies arrived between 3.30 and 4.00. My attempt to play pass the parcel was stymied partly by the trickle of new arrivals which necessitated greeting and present opening and partly by the Princessâ€™s best friend from school, L. Mr. Waffle does not like L. How L treats the Princess on any given day determines whether our evening will be pleasant or unpleasant. I like Lâ€™s mother and she lives round the corner from us. I often take L for an afternoon or the Princess goes to her house. L does blow hot and cold but I havenâ€™t really seen much harm in her. On Sunday, I fundamentally revised my view. She did not like the Princess getting attention from the other children from school. She insisted that they sit out pass the parcel with her. Since Lâ€™s mother had not yet left, my opportunities for discipline were limited. When a little boy from the Princessâ€™s class (who seems like a lovely child) tried to talk to the Princess or play with her, L intervened and took him away. She gathered the two other children from school round her and excluded my daughter. I could see that the Princess was upset but I think she doesnâ€™t have the emotional sophistication to understand why or to see whatâ€™s happening with any clarity. It was abundantly clear to me that L was only nice to her when she (L) was cross with the other children. All of the other children at the party were basically nice, pleasant little people and, it is unfortunate, that my daughter had to be â€œfriendsâ€ with the annoying one.
We had hired a childrenâ€™s entertainer to, well, entertain. I deeply disapprove of this. We always had wonderful parties when I was little with treasure hunts and all manner of excitements organised by my mother. On the other hand, we had a big garden; the Waffle etablissement is a second floor appartment. Like all the things of which one disapproves, itâ€™s never so bad when youâ€™re doing it yourself. She was due to arrive at 4.15. There was a brief moment when I thought that she might not come and I think that this may be the closest I have ever come to a panic attack. Donâ€™t mock the afflicted.
She came, she was dressed as a witch. She was worth every penny of her exorbitant fee. L announced that she was not a real witch. When the witch asked whether the children liked colouring, L said she did not and encouraged her coterie to do likewise. When the witch left, L craned her head out the window to see the witch getting into a car and changing and announced this to all the children there and pointed out that the Princess did not have a real witch at her party. I wanted to smack her but I just ignored her. Later my daughter told me that the witch really liked her because she (the witch) had asked the Princess to help with the spells. It did not even cross her mind that the witch might be nice to her because it was her birthday, let alone because her parents had forked out a considerable sum. I canâ€™t help feeling that the poor Princess has the emotional IQ of a gnat and, of all people, she is least likely to appreciate the implications of being friends with a little manipulator.
Despite my concerns, I think she did, on balance, enjoy her party and, I suppose, that is something.