Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Party Nightmare

Warning: This is a rant. It won't be pretty. It will be self-indulgent. No-one likes a moaner, but that's what I am today.

I attended a children's party at the weekend. I decided to go on my own with my Boy, to give HID some "him" time, as weekends have been full on for him since my condition worsened. He is in charge of all childcare, cooking and home care at weekends, as I am no longer fit, and need the break in order to do all that during the week, with short periods of respite thanks to supportive family and friends.

I am aware children's parties can be stressful. I had asked a fellow mum also attending, and aware (to some extent) of my condition to keep an extra eye out for my son as well as hers. This did not do as well as planned, and to keep Boy in the age-appropriate soft-play area, and not running outside (it was boiling, he shouldn't be in the sun at 2pm) or into the big-kids area, involved me jumping up and hobbling around far more than had been the plan. So by the time it was "disco" time, I was not in the most accepting of moods, and neither was Boy. He was tired and hungry. A great combination to get obedience, no?

He, and many of the other under twos, did not understand that their time was "up" for playing, and they were no longer allowed to enter that area. They did not understand they were supposed to "dance". They were tired and hungry. Still, the clueless staff member carried on regardless, obviously it's been a while since she interacted with the under twos as a group of people. Boy kept making a break for it towards the door and I eventually decided it would be less painful to play outside with him, than keep running after him and carrying him back to the other children.

I was relieved when the staff member said the highchairs were ready and the meal was being served. So we hurried to our place, which was set out with colouring for the children, lovely. Boy is not yet there with the creative thing, and made a small mark on the page and lost interest. It was a dragging fifteen minutes before the meals started to arrive. I could have screamed. 18 month old children were not made to wait that long, especially already tired and hungry ones, who are surrounded by lovely toys they are no longer allowed to play with. None of the other parents seemed as haggered as me, and their little ones were fine. This could have been to do with the 8 "grab bag" large size of ready salted crisps the staff kept emptying onto the table for the 6 toddlers to help themselves to. I generally don't allow crisps due to the dangerously high salt content for such little ones. One is fine at a party, but Boy will eat until there is no food left! I was a little alarmed that everyone else thought it was fine
for children that age to eat such crap. I struggled to prevent Boy from eating too many crisps, as he was keen to steal from other children even though he could not reach. I got so sick of other parents either trying to give him crisps or asking me why I wasn't letting him have any that I eventually lied and said he was on a low salt diet. Which I suppose is partly true, just not for any reason other than to keep general good health. He will ask for these things when he's older, I'm trying to keep his diet as good as possible while I still have 100% (debatable) control over it.

The food started to arrive! Most of the children had a pizzas/nuggets/chips combo, but we had been given a choice, and I had picked the only healthy option, a sandwich and carrot sticks. Like I said, plenty of time for pizza when he can moan and beg me for it. The only non-cooked meal was the last to arrive (only after staff were reminded by the birthday girl's mummy) and Boy was beside himself with hunger, we actually left our seats so I could walk round to comfort my screaming baby. The sandwich was huge (yey!) and the staff member insisted we wait for a knife to cut it so my son didn't choke. My son who has been able to eat whole apple since around 8 months old. I declined this knife, and Boy happily tucked in. Carrot sticks absent. Birthday girl's mother inquired. Staff brought us a "grab bag" of crisps as a replacement, as they "didn't do" carrot sticks. Why put them on the menu then? Tried to explain health diet etc etc, obviously not part of her vocabulary. Another member of staff brought some cucumber sticks. Which the 1st staff member tried to insist my son would choke on again, and then offered my son's meal round the table to the other children. Luckily, he doesn't eat much, and the other mums seemed glad to have something green on their child's plate.

The only child-appropriate part of the meal was the mini-milk ice lolly for desert. However bad the party was, I was ashamed to have been making a less than positive comment to another parent who I had been sharing rolled eyes with all through the meal, which the birthday girl's mummy overheard. She obviously wanted her daughter's party to be a success,and had tried hard to get my Boy his proper meal. She had spent money, and was a lovely person. She is the lady we are considering as a temporary childminder for our Boy when I am recovering from my c-section. I was sorry I was ever negative for her to hear (for anyone to hear, it should have been kept to myself), and I've been feeling bad about it ever since. It's really isn't acceptable behavior. I have tried to make amends, and stressed how much Boy enjoyed playing in the soft play area and outside. She is such a lovely girl she was completely fine about it of course, which makes me feel worse!

Parties. What a nightmare! Will be taking the calvary, in the form of HID, next time.


At 7:39 am , Blogger SandyCalico said...

You did so well under the circumstances not to lose your temper and start shouting! I find those parties so stressful, perhaps your friend felt the same?
Can you write to the party venue and make suggestions for future toddler parties, e.g. fruit instead of crisps? It sounds like the staff have no idea!

At 7:45 am , Blogger allgrownup said...

I think the staff were used to dealing with older kids! Although, it would still be nice for older kids to given something a bit healthy! I mean, I would have been much happier with breadsticks and garlic bread as a starter, not crisps. And surely it's cheaper to offer fruit for afters?? I don't like to be a party pooper, kids should have "treats", but it was all a bit much! If I find the time, I will write. I also intend to write to the local pool about their arctic temperatures in the children's pool...

At 1:01 pm , Blogger Margarita said...

I'm exhausted just reading this. Wow. You're a trooper for having handled that so well!

At 7:17 am , Blogger Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

Parties are indeed a nightmare, and I've only been to one so far. To be fair, the food was a bit better than you had, but there was still plenty of rubbish. All the sandwiches were white bread. But there were carrot sticks and cucumber sticks and the like. But there were chocolate prizes for all games, along with cake and biscuit decorating activities, which involved lots and lots and lots of sugar icing. Made me feel nauseous just having two bites.

I'm astounded that the staff were concerned about the potential of choking on a sandwich or on cucumber sticks, but not worried about choking on cripss, which is actually far more likely.

All that said, if the parties are few and far between, I think it's OK to let go while there. If they have a healthy diet at home, which they're happy to eat it probably won't get them addicted to the junk quite yet. (Of course, I might rethink that if it ever gets to the point where there's a party every single week!)

There's an award for you over at mine.

At 8:25 am , Blogger Grit said...

don't feel bad - it's the result of an unsatisfactory policy at the party venue, and sometimes you cannot know these things until you actually go and try them out.

but having had similar experiences, and faced some of the crap forced on children we now choose only those party venues where we can take our own food. then everyone can cater for all tastes/allergies/diets, people share more and everyone's happy!

At 9:57 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, you handled it Soooo well, must have been tempting to just pick up your boy and leg it.

At 7:28 pm , Blogger clareybabble said...

Oh I remember a disastrous party too involving a not very good magician, a disco and lots of under 3's! Toddlers aren't made to sit still! I think you coped brilliantly. We ended up leaving half way through, mumbling something about him being tired, etc!

At 7:59 pm , Blogger allgrownup said...

missbehaving & clareybabble: I was so very tempted to leave, I was looking for an opportunity! Then it ended, phew.
Tasha: we are having quite a few parties at the moment, that's partly why I'm a bit neurotic. My Boy is so greedy he will eat until there is nothing left, when I'm sure he's full, so parties/bbqs/buffets are a nightmare. Thanks for the award :-) Yes, how random are those choking concerns??
Grit: I do have a few like-minded parenting friends who also cook most things from scratch, and eating at their homes bring nothing but relaxation and pleasure. But not everyone has the same parenting ideas eh? Shame...


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