Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Birthday Party *Almost* Disaster

Hands up. It seems I'm 'Slummy fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants Mummy'.  Or 'prone-to-disaster Mummy'. Or perhaps 'Useless-and-nearly-shunned-by-overly-emotional-pre-teen-daughter-forever Mummy.' I could go on...

Everyone tells me that having a birthday party outside of the house makes life a lot easier, so I was delighted when Firstborn chose to go ice-skating with some of her school friends this year instead of the usual home-based jamboree. There was also a bit of an issue due to the fact that Alpha had banned parties at home forever following the horticultural destruction resulting from over-enthusiastic Pinata-bashing at the Small(er) One's bash back in April.

Giddy with the thought that I wouldn't have a torturous week of shopping, baking, sourcing party favours, organising games and all the other little things that usually need to be completed prior to the event, I relaxed a bit too much and yes, it is possible that I took my eye off the ball.

Not wanting to book one of those rip-off birthday party packages where you pay through the nose for a plate of cardboard chicken-esque nuggets and microwave chips (call me old-fashioned but I have a firm belief that birthday parties merit real, tasty food that isn't entirely beige and/or reconstituted), I decided to take the kids to a restaurant near the rink afterwards so I didn't bother to book a 'proper' birthday package or pre-book tickets. BIG mistake.

Now, you have to understand that I'm no slouch at event planning. Not boasting exactly, but in my old life as a PR I managed to pull off a number of celeb-studded, journalist-smooching, paparazzi-swarming parties, not to mention numerous more intimate affairs to launch this product or that, so chucking out a few kiddie invites and booking a restaurant seems a fairly simple task in comparison.

I checked the ice-rink schedule on the proper ice-rink website. I tried to call to double check but in fairly standard Dubai-fashion there was no answer. No issue, I thought to myself. The rink always has a public skate session on Saturday mornings, what could possibly go wrong?

Here's today's life lesson: NEVER assume that the unexpected isn't going to jump up and bite you hard on the arse. 

Yup, we got to the rink and guess what? No public skate session. Instead, there was a special event on; Summer Fun, held under the provision of His Highness Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, obviously a wonderful thing designed to spread happiness among the lucky children who's clever parents had the foresight to pre-register. Or those who'd had the wit to check the special events section carefully hidden in a special place on the ice-rink website...

My heart went cold. Firstborn's brows started to furrow and her bottom lip stuck out. The Small(er) One switched on her tragic owl-face. I started to beg but the woman behind the counter wasn't having any of it. I begged at another woman who also wasn't having any of it. The party-bound parents started to show up with their kids. Confusion reigned. I speedily thought up a cinema-based popcorn-laden Plan B but Firstborn had a mini-tantrum. I despaired.

Then another mother went up and begged at yet another behind-the-counter-woman; miraculously this one caved in. Hurrah! Ten registration forms later and each child was kitted out in a team vest, skates on their feet and taking part in such delights as penguin racing, shoot the puck and other equally exciting activities. I doused my shattered nerves with large quantities of Mocha Frappuccino and laughed slightly over-enthusiastically at the sheer ridiculousness of it all - and most of all, at myself.

All's well that ends well. Vast wood-fired pizzas were consumed, a chocolate cake with Firstborn's name spelled out with candles devoured, large quantities of passers-by thoroughly annoyed by crazed children high on sugar racing around and throwing chips at each other; 9-year-olds are really quite uncivilised and, I'm sorry to say, often somewhat simian in their antics.

The surprise highlight of the day was chucking all the kids onto the Dubai Mall children's train, which they absolutely adored - nice to see that despite the new-found moodiness, smart chat-back and wannabe-teen-try-hard conversation, even a bunch of too-cool-for-school pre-teens are still little kids at heart.

And as for me? Yup, you guessed right....I have a firm date tonight with a bottle of Beaujolais. I'll be p*ssed on the patio, smoking and staring up at the stars... frankly, what more could a modern mummy ask for from life? 


juicyfatkin said...

Same happened to a friend about a month ago. She had to take the cinema option with lots of sad faces and had to bribe them all with all you can eat of popcorn and sweets.

Plastic Paddy said...

We had similar near disaster with the girls' birthday because it fell during Eid! Always thankful to have twins as you get two over with in one hit! You deserve at least a bottle to yourself and twenty of marlboro's finest! Enjoy!