I have never been into throwing huge birthday parties for the Littleboys. Frankly they are a lot of work, and I genuinely don't believe the boys are old enough to really appreciate them - they don't notice the difference between having five friends around to play, and fifteen. I know that as they get older - probably very soon - they will demand big parties, with everyone from their class invited, lots of games, entertainers and goody bags, and when they want them, I will happily comply. But there's plenty of time for that, so up until now my usual strategy has been to invite a few friends (and family, when we were at home) around for a Birthday Tea. I realise that this is increasingly unusual, but my view on it is a bit like my view on introducing kids to video games; don't let them do it until they really, really want to.....
So I did the same for Littleboy2's third birthday last week. I asked round five of our new friends, with 10 children between them, half boys and half girls. I think I must have mentioned the words 'birthday tea' in an email to one of them, as she came round very bemused not knowing what to expect. "I wondered what you meant by that," she said. "I mean, children don't drink tea, do they?" I tried to explain that in England 'teatime' is a time of day, and can also be used to mean a meal; it is not just simply drinking cups of English Breakfast. I still don't think she really understood.....
In the past I've tried to organise pass the parcel and so forth, but this time my mind was more on other things, such as the Cake, so I simply let them loose to play among themselves with every available toy. It was, I have to say, fair old mayhem. Littleboy 1 led a gang of small boys on the rampage around the house; climbing the bunk beds proved a popular activity. The smaller children spread Lego liberally around the living room. The cake was produced, and Happy Birthday sung. Littleboy 2 blew out his candles. The children stuffed their faces with brownies, pizza and the infamous cake - which turned out fine, if a little mysteriously chewy.
At the tail end of the party, I brewed a pot of tea for my remaining friends and The Doctor, who had returned home early and, thank God, was doing a sterling job of clearing up the mess. The Americans took their tea black and looked horrified at the idea of milk; yet another cultural difference I was unaware of.
Reading Mom/Mum's post about goody bags, I realise now that I probably should have provided one, but no-one asked for one or complained that there weren't any.
So I guess it was a slightly random party and maybe I score bad marks as a party hostess. On the other hand everyone has emailed me to say that their children had great fun. As for the Littleboys, they announced that it was the best party ever.
Sometimes, I reckon, you can get away with being a bit random. And if anyone did think it was weird, at least I have the excuse that I come from a different country (they are not to know that parties in the UK are quite similar to here....).