they came, they par­tied

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Contents - WITH PAT McDERMOTT

A‘squeal’ of noisy, ex­cited seven-yearolds has formed a squirmy line be­side me. It’s our grand­daugh­ter’s birth­day and Au­drey has given me the job of paint­ing her friends’ fin­ger­nails.

Tiny bot­tles of pink, pur­ple, green, turquoise and glow-in-the-dark red nail pol­ish are lined up on the ta­ble.

“One red fin­ger, one pur­ple fin­ger, one pink fin­ger, one green fin­ger and one blue fin­ger please,” said my first cus­tomer.

It’s like be­ing in a Broadway production of Lit­tle Or­phan An­nie. Lit­tle girls, lit­tle girls ev­ery­where! Lit­tle girls in the cubby house, lit­tle girls jump­ing on the tram­po­line, lit­tle girls play­ing ‘chasies’ in the gar­den, lit­tle girls sneak­ily dipping fin­gers into the thick pink ic­ing on the gi­ant birth­day cup­cake.

I see old-fash­ioned birth­day games are still go­ing strong. They’re play­ing ‘Where’s your room so we can mess it up’, ‘Pass the Par­cel R-E-A-L-L-Y slowly’ and that old favourite, ‘Let’s jump on your mum and dad’s bed un­til some­one re­ally gets hurt!’

The McDer­motts are merry-mak­ers. Few life events get past us with­out a slap-up party. A kind per­son once de­scribed our gather­ings as “lively”. A neigh­bour said they were badly or­gan­ised ri­ots.

But by the time Ruff Red (the last of our five kids) was in his late teens the MOTH (Man Of The House) and I be­lieved we’d nailed the par­ty­plan­ning thing. People said we were le­gends. Our kids said we were crabby wor­ry­warts quib­bling over the cost of kegs and se­cu­rity guards. I was the only mother they knew with the po­lice on speed dial.

At one of Ruff Red’s last ‘gather­ings’ (that’s what you call 300 people run­ning amok in the back gar­den) the rain was tor­ren­tial and the mar­quee col­lapsed but ev­ery­body kept danc­ing and shout­ing into their mo­bile phones.

“They’re telling more people where we live,” the MOTH said grimly.

The am­a­teur sound sys­tem blew the house lights. The party roared on in the dark. The po­lice duly ar­rived and took cover in the fam­ily room with the rest of us. We peered through the win­dows at what looked like the sev­enth cir­cle of hell.

“They are hav­ing so much fun,” one cop­per sighed en­vi­ously.

A few years and 15 par­ties later, we moved house. Our neigh­bours formed a guard of hon­our down the drive­way. It was such a lovely ges­ture. I re­mem­ber giv­ing an em­bar­rassed royal wave.

“They just want to be sure we’re re­ally leav­ing and taking the kids with us!” said the MOTH, wav­ing out his side.

This year I made some New Year’s res­o­lu­tions and hope to keep one or two for at least a month.

1. Walk for an hour ev­ery morn­ing. Buy a crois­sant and cof­fee to off­set pos­si­ble weight loss.

2. Ditch my over­sized hand­bag.

I don’t need to take a cut lunch, an um­brella and my last will and tes­ta­ment ev­ery­where I go.

3. Make sure ev­ery­body in the fam­ily is happy all the time. It’s the least

I can do.

4. Learn to dance be­fore it’s too late. The MOTH says four res­o­lu­tions are too many. Last year he made only two – to drink bet­ter wine and go to the gym.

“I kept both,” he says proudly. “Ex­cept the one about the gym.” AWW

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