The party’s over.
When your kids are old enough to go to school, they’re old enough to go to kids’ birthday parties. And by the time they hit kindergarten, your once quiet weekends will forever be replaced by a sensory overload of cake-filled chaos.
Unfortunately (and fortunately), most schools nowadays encourage children to invite everyone in the class, so no one misses out. Funny, it’s the one thing the they never mention in the brochures. Just be ready to tack on a couple extra grand to any school fees you might have. Because you’ve got presents to buy and parties to throw.
While we’re talking school, let’s do the maths. Say your child has 30 pupils in her kindy class, basically three-fifths of your weekends will be immersed in lollies, fairy dresses, superheroes and face painting. Add another kid in the mix and you’ll never have a birthday-free weekend again. So, strap yourself in and enjoy the ride. Because you’re going straight to crazy town, my friend.
Our inaugural birthday party experience was daunting, to say the least, as it set the standard for all kids’ parties to come. Parents still talk about it to this day, but mostly to their psychoanalysts. It was that nuts. In fact, as I looked at all the other lost souls at the gala event, I could see that every mum and dad was thinking the same thing… “How in the hell are we going to beat this? Is this what’s expected of us? What more do these kids want?” We gave them life, for crying out loud. Now they want an MC who can sing every song from Frozen, a magical fairy, circus clowns, farm animals and a DJ that plays requests – mostly Taylor Swift.
When the sugar deluge finally subsided, a new world order had taken its place. Life as we knew it was officially over. We had made the leap from innocence to experience. We were no longer birthday party virgins. The song “Hotel California” kept echoing in my head.“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave…”
I know I’m making it sound all bad. And it’s not. It can actually be awesome. Here are some simple tips to help dads survive and thrive at kids’ parties.
Find a dad in your same boat
You’re all in it together, so they’re easy to spot. If you need help finding one, they’re the males at the party with the thousand-yard stares. Their eyes speak volumes… “What have I gotten myself into? Why am I here? And, where’s the beer?”
Hang out close to the food table
Before dozens of grubby, snotty hands descend on it, fill your plate with goodies. It will give you something to do to kill the time, and you can feed your face in the process. Plus, if you eat too much and feel sick, you’ve just created a great excuse to leave early.
Hold something in each hand
Hold your wife’s hand bag in one hand and a beer in the other. That way, if you ever get asked to help lift a giant BBQ across the deck because the wheels have broken off of it, you can say “sorry, my hands are full.”
Stand close to a speaker
If you’re one of those guys who just doesn’t feel like talking, you don’t have to if you situate yourself next to a box filled with treble and bass. Fortunately, as a man you can communicate telepathically with other men, so there’s no need to chat anyway.
Take turns babysitting at parties
Offer to take and babysit friends’ kids at the party so the other mums and dads can go home and have a life. Your debt will be repaid. And all will be right in the world.
Make sure there’s a face painter
These makeup magicians kill loads of time while your kids stand in line. And even with 10,000 grams of sugar coursing through their veins, this exercise calms them down for a reason that only science can explain.
Be the super dad
Hand out gift bags, sing a song, plop yourself in the dunking booth, talk to the grandmas… do it all. Immerse yourself in it. You might surprise yourself and have some good fun. Plus, you can score some extra gift bags for yourself from the unlucky few kids (and lucky parents) who couldn’t make the party. You’ll be surprised at just how much you can amuse yourself with a bouncy ball and some jelly snakes.
So, whether you’re at a birthday party or throwing one, just remember that this is the magical time when your kids truly adore their daddy’s. My advice is to lap it up, because they’ll be teenagers before you know it. And we’ll all be invisible pariahs.