SEÁN’S having a pirate theme for his upcoming first birthday party.
Not because he’s ever expressed an interest in pirates or because I have any particular interest in pirates, but because that was the choice available in the Two Euro Shop when I went in.
It was either cut price Paddy’s Day paraphernalia or paper plates and cups saying ‘On Your Communion Day’ or the pirates. So I plumped for pirates.
‘Pirates?’ Mammy Dunne – who was with me – said, doubtfully.
‘Yes, pirates. We’re having pirates,’ I said tightly, shooting her my patented Don’t Even Think About It look.
Arriving home, I produced the bag with a flourish to Yer Man. ‘Look, Seán’s having a pirate themed birthday party,’ I said brightly.
‘Pirates?’ he said, doubtfully.
‘Yes, pirates. We’re having pirates,’ I said tightly, shooting him my patented ‘Not In Front Of The Ma’ look.
Other mothers wouldn’t have panic bought the first thing they saw, they would have looked elsewhere for something more suitable for their still-tiny innocent baby’s birthday party. Cups and plates and banners covered in animals or balloons or rainbows.
Better mothers. Sensible mothers. Good mothers. Like my sister-in-law for example who offered me table covers and banners and balloons in both a Mickey Mouse theme and a Toy Story theme.
‘I have them all in the party drawer,’ sez she, like it’s no big deal.
She has a PARTY DRAWER. A drawer full of party stuff – SUITABLE party stuff – that she can pull out at the drop of a hat, effortlessly decorating a room in a flash.
I don’t have a party drawer. I don’t even have a party pile. Or a party plastic bag. I have pirates. Lots and lots of pirates.
This pirate business isn’t the only thing I fall down on. I’ve outsourced the food as well. We’re having a tea party in the afternoon of his birthday, just for family, for an hour. I’m serving sandwiches and tea. With some jellies and goodies for the other kids there, Seán’s cousins.
The more I thought about it, the more I panicked about the food. It’s only sandwiches, but when was I going to get to make them? I had, after all, to clean this bastion of filth [our house] before letting anyone in here and that was going to take days. Weeks even.
Eventually, after being awake all night, tossing and turning, Googling ‘Can you freeze a cheese sandwich’ I threw myself through the door of the local cafe and begged the lovely man behind the counter to help me. Covered in shame I was. Covered.
No problem, he soothed, like it wasn’t the laziest thing he’d ever heard in his life. One platter of sandwiches and some scones with butter and jam as well, how’s that?
I could have kissed him.
In my pirate buying frenzy, I also picked up some pirate ‘Loot Bags’ which you’re supposed to fill with treats to give to the kids attending the party to bring home with them.
I looked at them with horror. How had I let that happen? I had no intention of doing party bags. None. But now they were there, looking at me. Taunting me, even.
‘Fuck it,’ I exploded, when I could take it no longer ‘I’ll do poxy party bags.’
I know most people fill the bags with jellies and sweets and little trinkets from the pound shop. Bubbles and dinky cars and pretend jewellery and what not. Yeah, I can’t be arsed with any of that. I’m filling mine with Lidl buns and a two euro coin. They can buy their own plastic tat themselves.
So the date is set, the theme, food and party bags are sorted. All that’s left is the cake. Now that’s a story for another day.