The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

Party like you’re five

on January 28, 2014

Two and a half weeks after #1 turned five we officially marked the end of celebrations by holding his birthday party last Saturday.

I know some people who say there’s no point organising a party for a child until they’re at least five and now I know why. At five they possess a clear understanding of what a Birthday brings. Namely presents, fun and the occasion being all about them. They want a say in the guests to invite and what kind of cake they would like. It’s no longer an affair purely set out by myself and quite rightly so, after all it is their special day.

This year for the first time, I asked #1 what kind of cake would he like rather than what I think he would like. He answered a fire engine cake. He still said a fire engine cake a month later which surprised me as I expected him to favour something else. So a fire engine cake it was.

I won’t lie to you, but it wasn’t a fun experience to start with. It may have seemed a simple idea at first. You build a brick shaped cake, cover it with red fondant and then add all the detail. Except when that first layer of fondant goes on and it starts to crack and break you can feel yourself thinking, why didn’t I outsource? Why feel the need to make it yourself? Why indeed.

I guess it’s the enjoyment and satisfaction of being able to create something that your child asks for. Who wouldn’t like the feeling of being the Mum that can deliver a wish on occasion? Though a five year old is never going to show the same level of appreciation to match the amount of work that parents often put into things.

At five I think it’s time I gave #1 more involvement in the things that are about him. So we shared the ‘creative process’ together which mostly consisted of #1 pointing out things that were missing from the fire engine every time he walked by. It needs a siren Mummy. You’ve forgotten the lights Mummy. Where’s the hose Mummy? The ladder goes on top Mummy.

#1, you really need to refer back to the green icing train cake of three years ago to see just how far we’ve travelled.

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This last year has been a real turning point for #1. I’ve mentioned before his confidence has soared and he laughs easily with his friends and gets comedy value. With most friends being of similar age, we booked Captain Dazzle for his party. We’ve seen him before at two other parties in the last few years and we thought he would be exactly right for this age group. Besides, wouldn’t you rather have someone who knows what they’re doing to entertain a group of 24 small people?

Captain Dazzle has his art finely honed. He’s a mixture of joviality, funny voices, comic timing and has the ability to keep his audience engaged and in check. He’s enthusiastic without being overbearing and gauges the attention span of his raptured fans very well. He does magic tricks, balloon shaping, party games and has his own baby dinosaur and pet rabbit. What I especially liked about Captain Dazzle is that he makes the Birthday child feel important but equally gets all the other children involved too. I think that’s a fabulous quality to have as a children’s entertainer. A party should make everyone feel good.

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As I watched the young guests laughing out loud, taking part and having fun, I saw how much all the friends of #1 have grown too. At the age of five, friendships are no longer orchestrated by parents who have something in common. It’s about the small people who have a genuine fondness for each other. Whether it’s friends from school that #1 looks forward to seeing every day or friends that he’s now known since before he was one. Will some of these be lifelong friendships? They may be you know. They’re just getting started.

I wonder whether #1 will remember much of this party when he’s older. There’ll be photos to remind him of course and he and #2 will mention something Captain Dazzle said or did and fall about laughing. What is imprinted on my memory is the big happy smile he had, the laughs he bellowed, the way #2 stayed close by to her brother throughout the show and the way he said afterwards what a great time he had. “Captain Dazzle was so funny and I like my fire engine cake, Mummy, it was good.”

Simple words to say he was pleased with all the effort that we put in. I think that’s probably why I’ll still keep on trying to make their birthday cakes because it’s enough for them that I do try.

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