asks the question: “Where have all the parties gone?”
Whatever happened to our parties?” the man said. It was a good question and, like most good questions, I couldn’t answer it.
Except that this time it wasn’t because I was too drunk or too stupid or merely lost for words. This time it was because I had to put on a black plastic mask and polyester yester cape and teach a group of preschoolers eschoolers to play “What’s the time, ime, Mr Vader?”
As it turns out there is nothing so guaranteed d to cause complete psychological and emotional disintegration n as your child’s fifth birthday rthday party, and I say that as a student of Australian politics.
The brief was simple enough. My son on wanted a Batman party. ty. The problem was Kmart didn’t dn’t have any Batman invitations ations and, frankly, we didn’t dn’t quite love him enough to o go boutique. Ever the pragmatist, matist, I decided to try ry Big W.
“Great news, ws, son!” I said, bursting through ugh the door. “You know how ow you like Batman? Well, l, how much do you love Star ar Wars?!”
It turned out ut that Big W had sold out of superhero invitations but ut still had some Star Wars ones left. I also took the cups and napkins kins for good measure. Suddenly our Batman party had become a Darth Vader party. My son had gone from being an angry vigilante who stalked people at night to an evil overlord who ruled the universe in fear. Fortunately these were both roles he was highly practised in, but it was still difficult to explain to the othe other parents. “So is it a superhero party or a Star Wars party?” a child’s mo mother would gently ask. “It’s both!” I would snap b back before turning around and pretend pretending to hail a bus. Then I would re remember I was in a swimming pool. po Even the act of sendin sending out the invitations was a social minefield, largely because they came ca in packs of eight. “What about Khan?” Khan? my son implored with tear-fil tear-filled eyes. “Sorry kid,” I said said. “It’s your fault for making h him your 17th best friend.” frien Then the there was pass-the-p pass-the-parcel. As with all modern birthday p parties, children’s soccer games and the Russian Ol Olympic squad, the o one golden rule is that everybody has t to go home with a prize. And so we had to wrap a toy into ev every single layer of the parcel lest any child be disappointed. Anyone who thinks newspapers are dead clearly hasn’t had to prepare for this game. But the one thing nobody could have prepared for was my mother coming to the party as Batgirl.
“Er, Mum,” I hissed in the car, “when we said it was a dress-up party, we meant for the kids!”
“That’s OK, darling,” she replied breezily. “I’ll just wear the tunic and cape.”
I tried to apologise to one of the dads: “There’s a fine line between dress-up and cosplay.”
He nodded with what I believe is called the thousand-yard stare. Then he said, “Whatever happened to our parties?”
Standing in my Target thongs with a non-alcoholic drink in my hand, I knew they were gone, and gone forever.
Then I turned to see my son falling down laughing while a kid dressed as Iron Man whacked him with a lightsaber.
That’s what happened to our parties, I thought. We never actually lost them, we just gave them away.
“I turned to see my son laughing while a kid dressed as Iron Man whacked him”