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Alexander Residence: Why every party needs a bouncy castle

Monday, 13 September 2010

Why every party needs a bouncy castle

Magical weekend. Miss L's fourth birthday. I dread organising parties. Even though I used to teach drama and spent lots of time directing big groups of children. Its different when its your own children, for some silly reason it scares me. So we decided to cheat and go for a bouncy castle. It turned out to be a very good idea. We kept the guest list simple, the cousins, children from next door and two friends from pre school. It was all miraculously calm. I think all thanks to the bouncy castle giving them a space to go crazy. We were very lucky with the weather, over the week the forecast changed from a very black raincloud into a warm sunny afternoon with showers (the showers, by some huge stroke of luck, never appeared).
We went old school with the party food: heart and butterfly shaped sandwiches, cheese and pineapple on sticks, sausage rolls, pomm pom bears, hula hoops, grapes, Fox's party ring biscuits and fairy cakes. The cake was chocolate, Miss L spotted it in Baking with Kids. She had a great time covering it using four tubes of smarties and a grab bag of maltesers. She also decorated the fairy cakes with smarties and sprinkles. Making the sandwiches was a lovely family production line with Grandma buttering, me filling and Miss L and Aunty S cutting out shapes.
The bouncy castle meant we didn't have to work out the logistics of party games and whether or not they would cope with winning and losing. Maybe next year. We did pass the parcel which sent my OH into a panic as he couldn't remember the etiquette. No one really cared though. My brother (he's 30) had the biggest tantrum. He was gutted he didn't get a party bag as they had those old fashioned polystyrene glider planes in, and magnetic ladybirds/frogs. In planning everything I got totally nostalgic for the things of our childhood parties.
Miss L was very excited to have a her first 'sleepover' (her cousins slept in her room). Both the Aunties and Uncle A were celebrating birthdays too so the evening was a chance for the grown ups to party. Its didn't take many drinks before we hit the castle ourselves. Proper nostalgic fun. Less than a minute of proper bouncing gave even the fittest amongst us shaky legs. God knows how they kids coped all day. We were excited to get our first lie-in in a while though as they all woke up late and then occupied each other playing.
Breakfast was fried eggs and left over baguette courtesy of Auntie S. Lunch was baguettes tuned into pizza slices. Baguettes, it turns out, are very versatile. Lots more bouncing on Sunday morning after an initial panic when the extension lead to the castle fused. As my OH replaced it with one supplied by our lovely neighbours, Miss L remarked 'My Daddy knows how to fix all castles'. We all laughed, me especially as I had detected the fault and sorted out a solution, my OH simply plugged it in. I bit my tongue.
It was really sad that mum wasn't well enough to come as I know she would have loved watching all the children. But Miss L was very excited to be taken over to Gran and Granddad's house, without Mr G, on Sunday afternoon, for more cake and presents. We all curled up together on the sofa and watched Mum's Fantasia DVD, the perfect end to a perfect weekend. My dad couldn't get over how grown up Miss L was, how tall and talkative she was. All the way there and back in the car she chatted with me. I realised how much more complex some of the concepts she was trying to explain had become. Organising her new toys, school vs pre school, super hero's powers, time, why Gran's don't have babies anymore. We talked a lot about time and growing up, not prompted by me. It felt like a really poignant end to a magical weekend. My little girl has three days left of being three.
Mr G looked out of his window this morning and was utterly shocked to find the castle had 'Gone! Gone!'. I was proud of him too, he just pottered so happily all weekend, and even though he was too excited to nap, kept going all day. It was also lovely to see him being so relaxed and giggly with family he hasn't seen for a few months.

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