I threw a stress-free kids’ party that turned into the party from HELL

Crying child

My daughter’s birthday party ended in disaster, even though I tried to make the whole event as casual and stress-free as possible. It can only be described as the birthday party from hell.

Kids’ birthday parties are my kryptonite. If I can avoid throwing one for my kids then I will. But with my daughter’s date of birth looming I knew I wasn’t going to get away with it this time. I hastily pulled together the most casual party possible. I’m talking friends, cake and somewhere to play. I was determined to make this party as stress-free as possible.

Announcing: the stress-free party

I sent an email out to her class, inviting anyone who was around on the first day of the summer holidays to the local playground for a ‘casual birthday get-together’. Assuming most of her class would be away or busy with Christmas events, I was only expecting around 10 or so of her favourite friends to come along. In keeping with the ‘stress-free’ theme I decided against baking a cake, and purchased a supermarket mud cake instead, along with a selection of fruit and snacks for party food. I set up a game of pass the parcel and even pulled together some sub-par lolly bags. Stress-free party sorted!

It was hot, bloody hot

Unfortunately Fortunately nearly everyone was free on the day, which meant most of her class rocked up to the party along with their siblings. I mentioned it was the start of summer? Well, the day was hot! Despite setting up early, the morning sun quickly became hard to bear. Somehow, blistering heat makes things a lot harder, don’t you think? I should have taken this as a warning sign.

The motion sickness

Once the kids started arriving, they set about playing together in the playground just as I’d hoped. The trouble was, they all decided to get on the teacup ride and spin themselves around as fast as possible. Being kids, no one knew when to get off before they started feeling sick. I found one of them conked out and looking green on the picnic rug, being fanned by her mum. “Motion sickness,” the mum explained. Oh dear. I looked up to see another one making her way back to the party spot, crying bitterly and clutching her stomach. “God, they’re dropping like flies!” I half-joked, wondering what I’d let myself in for.

Then the swing incident happened

Already feeling a little uneasy about the sick children, I stared around the playground to check on all the others, regretting sending some of the parents off for a bit of free time while I kept an eye on their kids. Then I heard a cry from the swings and watched a dad gingerly walking with a hobbling, sobbing party guest, who’d clearly taken a tumble. Great, I thought, now we had a bloody knee to contend with. I raced over and checked her legs – not a graze in sight. “She’s broken her arm,” the dad explained, and then gestured towards a nearby father who was on the phone. “He’s calling the ambulance now.”

Holy s**t!

My stomach dropped in horror, as I realised I’d have to call this girl’s mum and tell her she’d broken her arm at my child’s party. “Oh my god!” she shrieked down the phone before racing back to the playground. The poor little girl was being comforted by a group of parents, and when her mum arrived, they all huddled over her, trying to keep her calm and fend off the blazing sun. Feeling useless and terrible, I glanced across the playground, wondering if I could just end the party then and send everyone home.

One mum couldn’t take the drama

Then I noticed the body of a mum lying down on the picnic rug across the other side of the playground, which I guess had become some sort of hospital sick bay. “Geezus, what’s happened over there?” I exclaimed, pointing at the body. “Oh, she  passed out,” a nearby mum explained. “She heard about the broken arm and keeled over. Luckily George’s mum was there to catch her.”

Get me home, I wished, as hard as I possibly could.

The ambulance arrived … sort of

The ambulance took forever to arrive and when it did it went straight past the playground, presumably to the other park down the bottom of the street. We waited and waited for it to come back, but in the end, one of the dads got in his car and went to get the damn thing. Eventually the ambos got there and took over everything, making the kids laugh in the way that cool and collected paramedics could.

“Come on everyone,” I said to the kids standing around the patient. “Let’s have cake!” I guided them back to the party table and wondered if I even had enough cake to feed these kids (as there were double the amount I’d catered for).

The cake couldn’t have been smaller

As I started cutting the teeny tiny supermarket mud cake, I realised it was barely going to make it. Why the hell didn’t I buy two of them? I thought. Sweat dripping down my brow as I dished out the pieces to the hungry kids, siblings and all, cutting smaller and smaller chunks off for them until I ran empty.

Man, I’m bad at kids’ parties.

The next party will be different, so different

The party finally finished and we all packed up, waving goodbye as the poor little girl got into the ambulance with her mum, the rest of us parents joking about needing a stiff drink to get over the day. Truth be told, we were all a little shaken up about what had happened.

The next party, I’m throwing money at. In fact, I’ve already started saving for it. I’m hiring a venue, entertainer, caterer, cake baker, the whole lot. Kids’ parties and me JUST. DON’T. WORK.

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