Ten reasons why children’s parties are shite

Adult parties (I mean parties as an adult – not orgies or anything) are great.

I hear.

I don’t get invited to any – but what I imagine is that there’s usually prosecco in fancy glasses, nibbles (not nipples) from M&S, no cringe worthy party games and great talking points. I imagine people stand around getting pissed, some classic George Michael plays in the background and there is intelligent natter about Brexit and Love Island.

Children’s parties, on the other hand, are the worst. The absolute worst. They’re shite.

  1. First off when you arrive you realise you know no one. The kids run off together screaming towards the soft play and there you are with a GROUP OF STRANGERS. You might have nodded to them in the playground before but you don’t know anyone’s names. You need name tags – you know the kids but you can’t rock up and say “Hi Teddy’s mummy! How was your journey?”
  2. You have to mingle and try to think of acceptable things to talk about with these strangers that will make you terribly interesting and worthy of friendship (because you’re so lonely) but can’t think of a single thing to say. My poor husband could only think of the following opener with another dad “how did you find parents’ evening?” What have we become? The most boring mo fos to ever grace a soft play? Me – I have word vomit. Within about five minutes I was talking to a stranger about how racist Super Ted was. Why? I can’t tell you.  I really can’t.
  3. There are no lubricating tools – no prosecco, no wine – you’re basically thrust into an awkward social situation with name tags and no alcohol. You’re at an AA meeting in a f#cking soft play.
  4. There are no nibbles – there are only nibbles for the brats. And even though the nibbles are chanting your name – cocktail sausages, frazzles etc – you can’t touch them! Because the other parents will look down on you – for taking food off babies and all that.
  5. There is cake snobbery afoot. You have to have made it yourself to even consider yourself being called a mum. It has to be a great British bake off masterpiece. A fucking rainbow unicorn three tiered ensemble. If you can’t do that then it has to be bespoke made by a professional; a hundred tiny handmade sylvanian family members on the top. Mine was from Sainsburys.
  6. The blowing out of the candles is bloody terrifying. There are twenty kids sat around in fabric with the same flammability as a pringle – Pirates and princesses that could go up at any second. Open flames are not, I repeat, not a good idea.
  7. The party games are barbaric and only serve to make children cry. They are also the most excruciatingly dull things to watch. Have you sat and watched OTHER PEOPLE play pass the parcel? There is literally nothing in it for you. Like – nothing. And sure enough your child won’t get a haribo or a crayon or whatever and will come to you screaming that it’s not fair. If pass the parcel isn’t bad enough – musical statues is horrendous – it’s where you repeatedly point at kids that move and say “you’re out.” causing tears and misery. Who invented these things?
  8. They drag on forever. Two hours feels like two days. You have absolutely nothing to pass the time other than idle chit chat about the snow or recycling and watching your kid doesn’t catch alight.
  9. There are dozens of them – the invites keep coming in an ongoing relay of terror that YOU started by inviting a whopping 18 kids to your child’s birthday and now they will forever repay the favour. You are going to spend a lot of money on presents – until they’re probably twelve. All eighteen of them.
  10. You finally get to take home a bin bag full of presents that you then have the pleasure of seeing your child rip through the next day – and what do you get? A bill. And another invite to the same bastard soft play the next weekend.

Do you know what – I’m 36 this year. I think I’m going to have an adult party of my own (no orgies!) – I will invite all the school mums and none of the children. I’ll have a bespoke cake made with Idris Elba on the top of it. There will be Prosecco and NO PARTY games. I want eighteen presents mind. I’ll dress up as a normal functioning adult.

I realise I have used the following words in this post: Idris Elba, lubrication, adult parties, orgies and thrust – so I may meet some like minded mums due to Google search. 

 

The man who would be my husband

I met the man who would become my husband when I was in my very early 20s. I was working as an office Temp and he was in the same office.

I first saw his name on a work email. I read the surname several times. I thought it was the most beautiful surname I had ever seen. I practiced my name with it and thought that the two together were sublime; a proper author name (I was always looking for a good author name for when I eventually inevitably became a famous author of course). Unfortunately I couldn’t stand the bloke. I mean I could not stand him! So you could say I fell in love with his name – not him.

I thought he was arrogant and bloody annoying. All he did all day was royally take the piss out of me. One day we were on a work do in the local pub and we were arguing as usual and my best friend exclaimed “Oh for goodness sake! Why don’t you two just get a room!” I will never, ever, ever forget it.

Ten years later after a million mistakes and other relationships we finally fell into each other with the force of a sonic boom. I knew he was it.

The next five years would be a fast and furious flurry of two children and a wedding day.

Something he doesn’t get credit for is how he handles – on a daily basis – my mental health problems. He is, in fact, the only man who has been able to cope with me! When I am depressed he will sit next to me, hold my hand and listen. He understands – even though he has never been in that position. He lists what I have to be thankful for and always tells me I will be ok. He is a calming anchor to my manic highs and lows. He is amazing.

I am so glad I took that temp job all those years ago. I am so thankful that I finally got my perfect surname (even though no one in Yorkshire can pronounce it correctly).

He has truly given me the world:

 

The Grandparent – Toddler Handover Notes

Usual Disclaimer: Gee…I sure am lucky to live so near to my parents! We are so lucky my son has his grandparents in his life. I sure don’t know what we would do without them.

But I could do without the handover notes.

Which usually go a bit like this:

Toddler is thrust back into the house, after our much needed time off, looking rosy cheeked and full of gusto with a new attitude of “well now I know who’s really boss”.

Grandparents give me a carrier bag of half eaten brioches, soggy biscuits and a cup of squash that looks like it has been dragged through several puddles of manure.

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And the Toddler Grandparent handover notes commence:

1. First and foremost – we are told how much our son did not want to come home to us in any way, shape or form. We are told how miserable he is at Departure Grandparents, Arrival parents; You know – the ones who look after him 24 hours a day and the woman who barely survived a three day labour.

We are told that he started protesting and weeping merely at the thought of coming home to us when he reached our block – as soon as he saw the familiar streets leading up to this house – well, he had a breakdown. The poor soul. How awful for him.

2. Secondly – we are told a list of information about his bowels. If he has gone, when he went, what the poo was like! Shape, smell, consistency. What they did about it – never a straight forward: “Oh we simply changed his nappy, like you do 76 times a week.” No, no, always something elaborate because there was some sort of shit based disaster that meant he had to be hosed down in the bath like an incontinent Rhino.

“And you know, there’s something wrong with those nappies you gave us, or we might have put it on backwards and inside out – or on his head – we just can’t figure them out.”

3.  Accompanied by something they have ‘spotted’ while he has had his clothes off that is a major cause for concern. A pimple or a red raw arse (according to them) or a jutting out bone or a scaly patch.

“Have you seen it? I really think you should have seen it? Do you ever look at his body? And we are sure he needs to go to the doctors asap about it, or A&E. Are you bathing him enough?”

4. A detailed description of how much he ate while he was with them – Veg! Yogurt! An adult portion of Fish and Chips! Juice, more juice! And pudding (“although you know, I want to get him some vitamin C supplements because of the tone under his eyes and how he obviously doesn’t get what he needs when he’s with you”) and

“we can’t understand what you mean when you say he will only eat egg! He seems to eat everything when he’s with us. Ha … Ha…. Ha.”

5. A list of perfectly easy and simple things they couldn’t do when they were out with him.

“We just couldn’t fold down that pushchair after all, so we have had to leave it at the train station in Scarborough. We couldn’t figure out how to fasten those reigns….that nappy…that coat. We couldn’t figure out which shoe went on which foot. We couldn’t adjust the car seat so your Grandfather just held onto him for the journey!” (no of course the last one is a joke)

6. A detailed description of how much he achieved when he was with them. “He was obviously just in the best environment for personal growth”.

“I know you say he can’t walk, talk, read, count… but when he was with us today he ran ten metres, said Grandma and Grandpa repeatedly and counted to eight in Russian.”

7. A detailed description of how much fun he had with them.

“You know dear, I don’t think I have ever, in my life, seen him so happy! It’s such a pity that you can’t do things like this with him all the time! Such a shame he has had to come back to you – look how upset he is! Poor Sod.”

And they leave.

Us waving and nodding at the door, and promising that we will give him another bath to get rid of any encrusted poo, we will get that spot checked out, we will feed him more broccoli and have more fun with him.

“Take him out in the fresh air every single day and play with him. Don’t just neglect him! Poor bugger!”

They drive off happily.

Toddler screams and wails and stamps whole body onto the floor. I gear myself up for the long evening counting the minutes before I can put him to bed and have some rest.

Once in my bed I close my eyes and hear the tick tock of the clock counting down to the next time he can go to his grandparents.

Repeated Disclaimer: Gee…we sure are lucky to live so near to my parents. Grandparents are the best and we don’t know what we would do without them.

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Inspire your young budding writers AND eat FREE pizza! Sunday 25th March in Leeds – Pizza Express #worldbookday2018

If there are two things I absolutely adore in this world – it’s writing (I could totally be JK Rowling if I just had a better attention span) and Pizza – the food of Gods. So imagine my delight when I learned three things:

  1. Pizza Express are supporting World Book Day by holding a ‘How to Write a Novel in 60 Minutes’ kids’ workshops for World Book Day 2018
  2. there will be pizza there – obviously.
  3. They are doing this in Leeds! My new hometown.

So if you have some young budding writers in your brood and are looking for something fun to do this Sunday – why not come down to Pizza Express in Leeds.

You can go to Pizza Express this Sunday (Sunday the 25th of March) Address:  The White Cloth Hall, Crown Street, Leeds, Yorkshire.
It starts at 11am, and the workshop lasts for one hour.
Lunch is then at 1pm for both children and adults.
You can get tickets for free from eventbrite and the ticket includes FREE PIZZA for kids.
This is not a drill – FREE PIZZA. I said – FREE PIZZA for kids.
The workshops are aimed at 7 to 12 year olds – plus confident 6 year olds.
To book your free tickets simply click here

Further Details:

Parents and their children are invited to join the wordsmiths from Scribbler HQ at PizzaExpress restaurants in Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester and Leeds throughout March.

Your child / children will create their very own novel.

They tell me there will be ‘lashings’ of pizza afterwards (they had me at lashings).

There will be a special edition of the Dough Ball Times activity pack, available in restaurants until the 25th of March, featuring a £1 National Book Token and a competition where children are invited to win a year’s supply of books by designing their own World Book Day Dough Ball Bookmark.
For more information and to see when they’ll be in your town just click here!
Hopefully I will see you there – I will be the one with my face in a Hawaiian.
Yes I like pineapple on Pizza – Don’t judge me!

Never being part of the natural ‘birth’ club: Cesareans, Birth Trauma and PTSD

Let’s get a few things out of the way first, before we get going. We are grateful.
Grateful we have a son. I am grateful I was able to conceive, I am grateful we had a healthy baby. I am grateful that my son and I lived to tell the tale of my first birth ‘experience’. I am grateful I am now in the position to have another child. We are beyond lucky, grateful. And a baby is a baby is a baby.

An ‘in the nutshell’ look at my first birth experience: Forty Two weeks, Induced, Three days of waiting & labour, severe sickness, diamorphine, epidural, three shift changes of midwife, 10cm, two hours straight of pushing, epidural runs out, baby turns back to back, absolute agony where I no longer cared if I lived or died, theatre, forceps, failed forceps and emergency cesarean.

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Photo Credit: birthphotographers.com Facebook Page
2015 Image of the Year by Nichole Hanna Photography.
Link provided

After an emergency cesarean, during your next pregnancy, you are asked how you feel about your next birth. The midwives will discuss with you the various implications, risks, elements of opting for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth after cesarean) and a planned cesarean.

I have been quite adamant that I would not go through what happened to me the first time again. Almost aggressive in my stance on this (particularly hard for me as I find it hard to say what I want and find it hard to say no / big people pleaser complex). I ‘feel’ that they (the hospital/ nurses/ midwives) do not want you to have a planned cesarean. This may not be the case … but it’s just the vibe I get. So I am pleased I have stuck to my guns and all my notes read “wants a planned cesarean”.

So why is it that I can barely get through a sentence about this without breaking down in tears about the subject?

Because what if my choice is the wrong choice?

What if I am closing myself off from the possibility of experiencing giving birth?

It’s almost too ridiculous to type (none of my friends, who have been through natural labour have said “Steph! You simply MUST experience it!) but there’s a part of me that feels like I will never be part of the club. I missed out on giving birth – the way we are designed to give birth.

Ridiculous – yes. I know.

My emergency cesarean was not a nice experience, it affected my partner badly too, and I feel it severely damaged my ‘bond’ with my son. He wasn’t handed to me for what seemed like an age. He was over in the corner. I couldn’t see him. I didn’t hold him. My partner walked over and showed him to me briefly before he was taken off to be weighed and I think put in a blanket (I can’t even remember).

My plan was a water birth.

I see photos, these beautiful photos of babies being held straight away by the relieved and ecstatic mother in the pools or in the bed – and I can’t help but envy that. I want to feel that bond.

After talking about my first birth experience in tears repeatedly to my midwife – she mentioned Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and The Birth Trauma Association.

We were so relieved to have our child and to be alive – it never occurred to me that I was in any way scarred by my experience – other than the psychical scar at the bottom of my stomach.

But I’m scared. And that’s the truth of it. Scared of making my decision – and scared of the decision in itself.

Will I always regret not giving myself the chance to experience it? Will I never feel as though I am in the club?

“The most important factor is getting your baby safely in your arms, it doesn’t make you any less of a woman.” The amazing words of my beautiful best friend.

After the comments made about IVF last week and thinking about all the ways we now have to bring children into the world I am reminded that – a baby is a baby is a baby.

And in much the same way, a birth is a birth is a birth.

I just need to believe it and to reconcile my decision to myself.

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