My son had a party today for his ninth birthday. This post is not about him. It’s about me, and how stressed and anxious I get about things others don’t worry much about.
He asked me over a week ago if he could have a “family and friends party, not just a family party, this time”. My initial reaction was “no way in hell”.
Flashbacks to parties I had for them when they were little. Only one kid turning up, and that only because their mom or dad was childhood friends with my husband. Kids (not mine) looking obviously bored, asking when the other kids were going to turn up. Figuring out that this wasn’t a party quite like all the others. Parents, delivering or collecting, having furtive looks around the house while praising the neighbourhood. Knowing they were clocking the cobwebs.
I tried to convince him to have it somewhere else. The aquarium does nice kids parties. But, obviously, I had missed the point. It was to be a “gaming” party, where they all play with him on his WiiU. Naturally.
How many kids was the next question. Only four. Four more than I would have liked, but not as bad as I’d been expecting. These were his ‘friends’, who sat at his table, two boys and two girls. Fine.
I found some games controller symbols and used them to add a strong “this is a gaming party” hint to the invites. And handed them to him. No going back now.
And so, the wait and anxiety set in. Who would bother to RSVP. What if nobody came? What if they all came but had a bad time? What if , what if, what if.
And I kept thinking, why oh why did he have to go and want an actual party with friends. Why couldn’t we have carried on our tradition of going on excursions, just the four of us, (or at most, with close family) instead. Like when we’d gone to Aillwee Cave with his Galway uncles and aunts and cousins and granny, or when we went to Dingle Oceanworld with my mom and sister. Or like last year, when we went to Tayto Park, just the four of us.
But then I felt guilty. I should be happy he’s made some friends. He used to not talk to any children besides his sister and cousins. And now he has friends, or at least people he calls friends. And I’m trying to get in the way of that, due to my own anxiety. Bad mother!
And so I spent the week worrying. My husband couldn’t understand why. “What’s the fuss? They’ll come over, play video games, eat pizza and cake, and go home with a goodie bag.”
Of course, if you put it that way… And so, I tried to think of it as ” a play date with extra nice food and goodie bags.” And that made me relax a little. And I baked the requested cake (a Mario One-Up Mushroom cake), and I made up goodie bags with treats and toys (from Tiger of course!) which I decorated with Minecraft stickers. And I got up at 8am and scrubbed the house from top to bottom (not that the kids noticed). And two of the kids RSVPed (and turned up on time). One boy and one girl. I’ll add a quote from my son “to be honest, I’m not too disappointed about that because I only have three remotes.”
And they played video games, ate pizza and cake, played ball with the dog, and went home with goodie bags. And all enjoyed themselves a lot. It was a piece of cake! And so, I won’t hesitate (as much) if my son wants another one next year. Heck, I might even see if those kids want to come over on play dates. (Gulp! Another anxiety-inducer for me.)
[image of a kitchen table, with a striped orange and white tablecloth, containing bowls of sweets, crisps, drinks, paper plates and cups, pizza, and a home-made Mario One-Up Mushroom cake, surrounded by nine candles, and artfully strewn with various figurines from Mario games, including Bowser, Princess Peach and Fire Mario.]