When my daughter arrives home from school grinning and clutching a sparkly envelope my heart sinks. Birthday party invitations are just another nail in my miserly mother coffin.
For me, the thought of more than two people under the age of 30 running around my house with cake and balloons, makes me want to set my own head alight.
Fortunately, circumstances have conspired in my favour for the first five years of my daughter's life, allowing me to avoid playing host to sticky fingered small people, negating the necessity to justify my actions.
As she was too young to know where her nose was never mind the fact that she had reached her first milestone, all appendages in tact, I saw no real need to party. Small gift, congratulatory pat on the head for having survived me as a mother for a whole 12 months. No party.
Whilst able to locate her nose if requested so to do, she was singularly incapable of forming grammatically correct sentences and therefore powerless to actually verbalize an official party request. Small inexpensive gift, cake from grandma (I don't bake either). No party.
This was bit more challenging due to start of nursery and therefore friends and peer pressure. Offset mumbled party suggestions by the purchase of shiny new bike. Distraction technique very successful as child was concentrating more on not breaking a leg and less on lack of party. No party.
Distraction techniques worked the previous year so why not use a tried and tested method. Made slightly more awkward as my daughter was now fully capable of communicating her wishes and did so on a loop. There was mention of the last party she'd attended which included a trip with TEN other children to an indoor pleasure park.
Responsibility for other people's over-excited, uncoordinated, soft boned offspring as they launch themselves off 20ft climbing frames? Not a chance.
But I had to tread carefully. "Well, you could spend a day inside that dusty old place where the chips are cold and you have to queue up for months just to go on the trampoline...OR we could go to grandma and grandad's house. I'm sure grandma will bake you a huge cake and don't forget her sweetie cupboard! And they live at the seaside. How about a day on the beach?". Success. No party.
A breeze this one. Away visiting my bother in Australia. Excellent birthday spent doing many excellent Down Under type things. Mountain of cake (supplied by friend), pressies and spoiling of child. No party.
So there you have it, my extraordinary capacity for selflessness and magnanimity when it comes to my offspring.
No doubt karma will play its role next year. I am aware that year six is likely to stretch even my avoidance and distraction tactics to capacity. Should tragedy strike and I'm forced to admit defeat, I have a plan to make my daughter's party one to remember.
Start time: 15:00hrs
Go home time: 16:00hrs
Stuffed green olives and chillies with a Dijon dip as the finger food.
A spoken word poet and/or a reading from Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment as the entertainment.
A chess competition. Or draughts if they prefer.
Lawn mowing game...winner gets to vacuum the living room.
That should do it.
Do you dread hosting children's birthday parties?
Have you managed to avoid them? Or do you think Suze is being selfish?