Sunday, 8 May 2011

ranting at the radio...and other things!

Its not very often that I rant at the radio! In fact its not very often that I rant at all, not really my style! But yesterday on the way to pick up son 3 from work and post my granny squares to Australia (finally! More of that later!) I caught a bit of Weekend Woman's Hour on Radio 4 that had me exclaiming out-loud to the car radio and made me actually consider calling in to say I thought they were talking a load of rubbish!

The topic under discussion was that perennial thorny parental issue of children's parties and the general gist was that the whole 'party problem' has escalated out of control. This in itself got me going because the 'sensible' adults in these situations are the parents who, by definition, should be able to exert some control! They interviewed various Lovely Mummies (and I'm sure they truly are lovely mummies, with the interests of their offspring at heart) who spoke of the traumas of having to invite every single member of the class, having your house trashed by 6 year olds, and of finding the carefully selected party bag jewellery (for the whole class, no less!!!) discarded by kids who really couldn't care less. They all kind of acknowledged that this was as much about parent peer pressure as pressure from children and spoke about how awful it would be if your child's party wasn't seen as 'as good' as the next one...

The suggested solutions to this terrible problem were to only invite a few neighbours and children - mummies that were your friends rather than your child's or to hope that your child would be ill on the big day so that the event would have to be cancelled!

For goodness sake! Have these people gone mad?!! Surely the whole point of having a party for your child is so that they can have their friends  to play with??!!! I don't think I got it right all the time by any means but I have 3 sons who had parties every year until they decided they were too big for them. There was only one year when we had more than half a dozen friends (the only time we ever shared a party with another family) and they were never ostracized for having missed any one out. We did all manner of things according to what the Thing of the Moment was - pirates, dinosaurs, pizza, dancing (yes, I had at least one son that loved his dancing), etc etc. They always had home made cake decorated as they chose (some of these were a challenge! For some reason, they never thought the choc butter icing/choc buttons hedgehog of my childhood hit the spot!), they never had trouble picking the handful of friends that they really wanted to come and the kids all happily went home with cake, a balloon and something nominal like pencils or pens. They played games when they were tiny - pass the parcel, musical bumps, sleeping lions (my favourite!!! It used to amaze me that noisy kids would lie perfectly still and quiet if they thought it was a game!!!) and I can't remember ever having tears because kids couldn't cope with not being the winner! The only concession to 'everyone must get something' was that we did have a sweet or other token thing to find in each layer of the pass the parcel - but only one main prize at the centre, surely that's what makes it exciting. As a child, I remember part of the thrill being that slight adrenaline rush at the thought of the possible forfeit you might have to do!

In spite of all that, my boys had (and still have!) plenty of friends, they got invited to lots of parties and kids always came to their parties and seemed to have fun. Of all their complaints (and trust me, there have been a few over the years!), they have never claimed to be emotionally damaged by not having mahoosive parties!  Nobody stopped talking to me on the playground because their child hadn't been invited or because their little darling was disappointed with their party bag! And to be honest, if that had happened, I would not have felt bereft at the loss of that particular friendship...

Now I appreciate my sons are 22, 20 and 17, so maybe the situation has changed beyond all reality in the last 5 or 6 years? But it seems to me that the responsibility for dealing with all this nonsense lies squarely with the very people who are complaining that it is all too much - the Parents!!! As the adults in the picture, we owe it to our children to teach them about what is reasonable and fair; they need to know that every 'I want' cannot be met with instant gratification, that it is ok to choose special friends that you really want to spend the afternoon with and that it is ok to just have fun playing (without needing to win at everything or have a present for everything). Surely our role as parents is to create a safe, happy environment that encourages play? If they only invite their friends, playing is not an issue and the whole thing is a lot less stressful for the supervising parents. If we don't behave like sensible adults, is it any surprise that kids don't understand boundaries and go on to think the most important thing is to have every thing that their friends have, immediately?

Ok... rant over! On to other things'...

I finally finished up all my yarn scraps in granny squares for Sarah London's 'Crochet a Rainbow' and posted these off to Australia yesterday. There are 28 in total and they are slightly random colour combinations as I was trying to use up all my little bits but I hope they will be useful, and not too late!!!

I never thought I'd be saying this, but in true British, 'never quite satisfied with the weather' style... we are a bit desperate for some rain! Look at the state of the grass in our front garden...

I can't remember it looking this dry this early in the year for a while. The flower beds seem to be surviving for the moment...

I'm loving all the purples and pinks of this time of year - flowering thyme, alliums, aubretia (I think?!) and of course lots of aquilegia spread throughout. (Just noticed next door's attractive wheelie bin...oops, should have cropped that out!!!)

Is this aubretia? I can't really remember! Pretty anyway, let me know if you know what its called!!!

And, of course, more aquilegia love...!

I'll save the back garden photos for next time - the peony is in full bloom now and looks fab!

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend... and not stressing over children's parties!!!




  1. I heard that too! I live in a small village with rather a lot of well off mums who often seem to be very competitive when it comes to parties. We've had skiing parties, go kart parties etc etc. I refuse to get into all of this. Last year, I had 10 of son's friends over in the garden for his 7th birthday party. It was a glorious, hot, sunny day and we had the very large paddling pool out. They spent over 3 hours playing in the pool and taking part in various games we had set up for them. No fancy skiing party or that sort of thing...just friends having fun together on a sunny day. They all seemed to have a great time and the party was rounded off with a game of Twister, which had everyone laughing. The boys went off with party bags and cake, and each had 'won' a little something during the afternoon...stickers etc. My philosphy is that you don't really need to do much for kids to have fun...just some friends, some activity, and food and drink! It doesn't have to cost much at all. I don't think they enjoyed their time any less for it being in someone's garden and not in a theme park or such. Lovely flower photos and the grannies are gorgeous xxx

  2. Rant on ! When I went back to the trusty balloon & a piece of cake wrapped in a party napkin. I suprised some children...'but where is my party bag?' AAARRRGGGHHH !!!
    Thanks for your comment - the Catmint seems to thrive even with three cats but I did have to tell a friend earlier that the dog was lying on his flipflops !

  3. Ae they serious? What an example of gross consumerism run wild - not what I've ever wanted to teach my children. Your garden is delightful. I'm a big fan of aquilega. Where you lives looks lovely. Gotta be honeste and say I didn't even notice the wheelie bin I was far to busy admiring your floral display! penny


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