Grace is eight now and has quite obviously entered middle childhood. She still likes playing with her Sylvanians and soft toys but has also developed quite an interest in the news. Behind the News on ABC3 is a favourite and I know I complain about some of the shows on ABC3 but BTN is great. They talk about most of the news, including issues like refugees in detention, at an age appropriate level. Everyone seems to comment on how lovely and well behaved Grace is. And she is. Except perhaps when she is not, which really is not very often. Indeed she is delightful company, full of affection and joy. With an occasional touch of anxiety which it is possible she may have inherited from me. Grace is becoming more and more competent with various bits and pieces. And evermore independent. After much family discussion we decided that she is allowed to cross some of the non major roads around here on her own and she is very careful about it. Sometimes she rides down to the local convenience store for milk or bread. Of course I worry if she is gone more than five minutes but oh, she is so proud of herself. As are we. And it is useful and helpful too. I asked Grace what her favourite thing is and she says her favourite thing is Artic Foxes.
We had a party for her last weekend. A big party in the park. Grace wanted to invite lots of kids from school and their siblings. We didn't worry too much about it, the park is spacious, lots of parents stayed and it is just some food and games. Right? We made mountains of fairy bread, a big fruit platter, nori rolls, hummus and cucumber and carrot, pastries and a big birthday cake. There were also potato chips and a big pot of home made raspberry lemonade. The icing on the cake was a bit sloppy but otherwise the food went pretty well. Gerard was well involved in getting the party organised and Mum helped me heaps too. Luckily the rain held off.
We had organised lots of games. Musical pillow cases, the chocolate eating game from my childhood and of course, the home made pinata. And games were where we came a bit unstuck. Grace invited quite a few of the boys in her class and while the girls wanted to play the games and follow the rules, a couple of the boys were really disruptive. Indeed after one boy ran off with the chocolate from the chocolate game, I had to warn him that if this behaviour continued that I would have to speak to his father. I expect some rowdiness and high spirits at a birthday party and the warning that I would speak to a child's parents is not something I do lightly. And I would expect that once I gave that warning that that the child in question would pull their head in. It has always worked in the past. But no! It got worse. We had spitting in the punch and elbowing of another parent who said something, we had stealing of lollies from the little kids when the pinata burst, we had my mother trying to protect the little children in the pinata scrum and the lie that my mother slapped a child, we had a few children colluding in the lie and a child riding past my mum and yelling liar at her and then some children played a game in a corner of the park in which my mother was tried and the sentence was to "kill the old woman". Needless to say, the parent was spoken to, it was established that my mum didn't slap anyone and the child apologised to me and Grace after school on Monday.
Most of the children didn't know what was going on and had a great time at the party. So the party wasn't ruined for them. Mum was actually quite philosophical and big about it. I was kind of shell shocked and lay on the bed for an hour afterwards, deep breathing, thoughts spinning through my head. I wondered if we had done something wrong with the party. Too many kids, too much sugar, games that were too rough and competitive. There is some discussion amongst the parents about the wisdom of pinatas and I'm not convinced we should do them. However Grace and Gerard really enjoy the annual pinata making ritual. It should also be pointed out that when Grace was upset she didn't get many lollies from the pinata, the girls all gave her one. Even one girl who had only got two herself. So we did a general re-distribution and the girls were happy. For all their intense girl world interactions, those girls are really very sweet to each other. Anyway if there are any future pinatas, Grace and I have agreed that the lollies will be gathered and put in a communal bowl for a grown up to allocate. But yeah, I could change my mind on this, but I don't think we will be having another party with boys until Grace is at least sixteen.