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In the real world...

In the real world, the organisation of a birthday party does not always go as planned. Here is a little story that we dedicate to all of you who know this all too well! 


D-15 days. I've decided to pick a date for Félix's birthday. I decide to talk to him about it. I decide that it is time for him to make his own list of invites. I decide that I need to find invitations. 

D-14 days. Spurred on by my decisions from the day before, I order some invitations. 

D-13 days. I pray that they arrive soon. 

D-12 days. Very organised mothers are giving out invitations for birthday parties that are taking place in a months time. 

D-12 days. (Again). I sit next to Félix and we make a list. He has 15. That's not bad, we can play games in teams. I don't know where I got that idea from... I must have read it somewhere. 

D-11 days. The invitations have arrived. We start to fill them in. Félix insists on filling them in himself. This could take some time...

D-10 days. It's taken two evenings to get them done, but the invites are finally ready. 

D-9 days. I make an attempt to start giving out the invites. The teacher explains to me that she can't help, and that I'll have to do it by myself. She no longer allows invites to be handed out in class as it causes too many jealous tears and there are too many children who don't understand why they didn't get an invite. I feel some anxiety building up inside of me... I don't know any of the 15 children and have never spoken to their parents. 

D-8 days. There's still 10 invitations to hand out. On the way to school, Félix felt the need to invite 3 extra friends. There will now be 18. Help. 

D-7 days. It's already Saturday. I need some inspiration. I think. I summarize: 8 invitations handed out, 18 children invited, a horrible weather forcast, an appartment which isn't exactly th biggest, a husband who isn't exactly available, and no idea of what we're going to do. 

D-7 days.(Again). What does the internet say? Despite conflicting advice about nearly everything, they do agree on a few things: Hand out the invitations three weeks in advance and limit the number of invites to the age of the child. It seems like I broke with the rules from the word go.

D-6 days. I'm going to get this back under control

- Felix dear, what do you want to do for your birthday?

- A pirate party with a treasure hunt! 

- A pirate party, how fun! 

Maybe I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. For a pirate party, you need pirates, organisation, treasure, and more organisation. It seems like all I have so far is pirates...

D-5 days. I gather together the email addresses of the parents of the children. I send a group email. They're all invited.

D-4 days. I decide to have very much needed day off party planning. I'm even dreaming of ships, skulls and crossbones and hidden treasures...

D-3 days. I think this has been more work than I expected. I need to take a step back. It's only a birthday party and there will be others. I rationalise. 

D-2 days. Shopping - sweets, juice, sweets, soda, more sweets are added to my basket. I think I've got everything. I find pictues of pirates, treasure maps, and a whole load of other things on the internet. I print them all - you can never have too many ...

D-1 day. I prepare the pirate cake. I'm not exactly talented in the kitchen and Felix doesn't eat much, so I keep it simple - a chocolate cake decorated with playmobil scenes. It's quite pretty, no? I'm super proud of myself. A moment of happiness! I sort through the things that I printed earlier. And now for a moment of unhappiness... I realise that it's already 11pm. 

D Day

7h00. Felix is awake and full of life. That's more than can be said for some of us.

7h05. Felix asks me when his friends are going to arrive. I get the feeling that it's going to be a long day...

7h10. Felix has discovered his cake and is over the moon. My first success! He has decided to decorate the apartment with all the pirates. It's perfect - I advise him to create an island, a beach, a pirate boat...

7h15. I'm back asleep. 

9h30. I re-emerge. The living room has been transformed into a Playmobil Fun Park. Not bad! Now, we just have to make some room for his friends...

10h30. We've created some space, moved the coffee table and blown up some balloons which we've dressed in a pirate's eye patch, a moustache and some scars. We've made pirate balloons! Was it really me that came up with this great idea?

11h. I hide the treasure for the treasure hunt. 

11h30. I've already forgotten where I hid the treasures. I start again taking care to make some notes.

12h. I lay out a buffet around my cake. I'm not going to be able to fit 18 children around the table. 

12h05. There will only be 17 - Martin has gastro. 

12h07. There will only be 16 - Justine is ill. No more details.

12h15. There will only be 15 - Raul doesn't feel too well. I'm thrilled! 

12h16. Felix gets a bit upset. Things won't be the same without Martin. 

12h30. Lunch. With two and a half hours to go until the party even starts, Felix is completely incapable of sitting still. I propose a moment of calm. Felix gives me a funny look. I try again, proposing a slightly less calm session of 'Pirates of the Carribean.'

13h. I prepare 15 party bags. I don't have any party bags. I improvise - freezer bags are just going to have to do. 

15h. The guests arrive. They're big. They take up lots of space. We all sit down and I introduce myself.  I feel under interrogation. I explain that we're going to have a pirate party, and that they need to get themselves into two pirate teams. 

15h05. Some children give me a funny look. I shouldn't leave them to their own devices. I'm the adult - I I realise I should be the one deciding! Two teams then. The 'Barberousses' and the 'Calcio Jacks'. I make use of the new names to tell the stories of these pirates. 

15h06. Anaïs, Louison are Léon yawning. Edgar is getting wound up. Oscar keeps interrupting me to clarify things. Marcel is about to declare war on Félix becuase they aren't agreeing on how to pronounce Jack Sparrow...

15h08. It's time to play. Two teams then. No need for a warm up - they are already boiling. 

15h30. We stop the team games. I want to get out of this alive. Félix is not a very good loser - he's in tears. I realise I need to find a unifying game. 

15h31. I improvise a mini disco. 

15h32. I'm great at mini-discos! 

15h45. They're getting thirsty. 

15h51. I discretely ask my husband to put the candles on the cake. Marcel uses this moment to jump from the sofa to the coffee table. I have a realisation. I've forgotten to buy candles. 

15h52. I'm anoyed at myself. Edgar has joined Marcel on the sofa. They improvise a disco... a jumping version. 

15h53. I'm feeling sorry for myself. The number of children jumping on the sofa is rising almost as quickly as my stress levels. 

15h54. My husband has decided to take things into his own hands. He sends me to the greengrocers to get some candles. I'm relieved. 

16h. I hesitate over returning. I return. They're all calm. They are listening intently to my husband. I must be hallucinating. They're playing 'chinese whispers'. 

16h10. Tea time. I sit them all down on the ground, asking them to imagine that they're on an island. Like pirates, they're celebrating their victory and passing around their treasure, with drinks flowing freely and music floating up towards the sky... and they believe me! !

16h30. Time for the much anticipated treasure hunt. I tell them a story. Again. I drag it out to the max. I tell the tale of a pirate called 'The Buzzard,' who had hidden his loot buried in the sand on an island. I tell them that when he died, he left coded messages that show where he hid his treasure. The magic happens. 

17h. Only one more hour to go. 

17h01. I suggest a pirate pictionary game. I'm exhausted. 

17h15. I suggest that they sing songs. Recite poems. Tell a story...

17h30. Edgar and Marcel continue to test both my sofa and my patience. Félix is sulking. He wants to open his presents. 

17h31. I give in - time to open the presents. It's a warzone. They all want to be the first ones to give their presents. Why? Félix opens each one and moves onto the next one in a manic fashion. Why? I'm clueless...

17h45. I give up. I let them access the Holy-Grail - Felix's bedroom. 

18h. The parents arrive. I don't offer them a drink. I just want them to go. 

18h01. Certain parents want the lowdown, so I say that everyone was very well behaved. I hope they don't notice how fixed me smile is...

18h30. We finally get our appartment back. I'm exhaused. I see the state of Félix's room. I'm torn between dispairing and just going to sleep. I black-list Edgar and Marcel from the apartment forever. I'm exhausted. I fall asleep amongst the confetti and wrapping paper. 

D+2. I take Felix to school. Why are the children giving me that look? The jump on me and tell me that the party was great. They tell me that I'm really nice. They say that they can't wait to come back to the house. I'm thrilled. Despite everything, I end up thinking... Bring on next year!  


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