Thursday, 3 August 2006

party

‘Are you sure it’s open?’ James asks me. The entrance to KIDSPORTS is eerily quiet. I had expected to hear squalls and squarks from some distance away.

A singular squeal rings out. Reassuring us that a) the walls are not sound proofed (for a moment we are worried that we’d need some kind of ear protection before we entered the room), and b) that the children have not been placated into some kind of silent, well behaved coma state possibly achieved by using large quantities of calpol. Yes - there is life at KIDSPORTS (even though the escalator is broken).

As we enter the room at the top of the stairs, we are greeted by a veritable banquet, of health and safety regulation - PVC and padding clad - primary coloured – climbing frames and play enclosures. A dozen or so rather warm and pink 5 year olds (sipping water provided by the uniformed 16 year olds on duty to prevent the children from keeling over from dehydration – that would be very bad PR) race around the room, overcome with sheer excitement.

The space could easily accommodate 100 children but it’s the School holidays and the turn out at KIDSPORTS is paltry this afternoon. The lure of an entire building full of climbing frames, ball pools, giant lego, activity desks and minature tables and chairs decreases significantly when the sun is shining and holidays can be taken abroad. I’m relieved that I’m not witnessing this ‘children’s birthday party haven’ at full capacity.

The usual kid’s stuff takes place. The odd squabble, the odd climbing frame casualty (and subsequent tears) and at one point an en mass removal of socks. A group of boys march around together, as if they are up to mischief, though perhaps the business they attend to is in their 5 year old imagination as it’s impossible to spot their objective with my adult perception.

A whistle is blown and the children gather together. They form a chain and are ‘chooo choooed’ across the space by an attendant into one of the side rooms.

The children know the routine well: plates of sandwiches and crisps are presented (most of which remain untouched and are whipped away and out of the children’s grasp in no time at all), the lights are dimmed and in a couple of seconds, candles are lit, happy birthday is sung and the briefest children’s disco of all time takes place (the soundtrack of boy band love songs is notably inappropriate for the male dominated party of 5 year olds). Then it’s time for the distribution of party bags, searching for matching pairs of socks, the arrival of parents ready to collect their offspring and one last surge of energy as the children realise that their brief ‘freedom’ will soon be coming to an end. The boys punch and hit each other and assume karate poses until they are dragged away home by their Mums and Dads.

These 5 year olds don’t know any different, but it wasn’t like that ‘in my day’ (can you hear my rocking chair creaking? Witness - as my hair turns silver grey…).

What happened to the innocent joys of ‘pass the parcel’? And ‘musical chairs’? And ‘sleeping lions’? And’ Mr Wolf’?

7 comments:

feathers in blu-tac said...

i still like to assume the odd karate pose even at 26 years old...

Northern Creative said...

he he he!

Watch yourself - at 26 you might actualy hurt somebody

Erik Mann said...

another great post...cool blog...erik

Northern Creative said...

Thanks Erik! How nice of you to pop by to say hello!

City Slicker said...

Really like the blog
Your title and photo are ace.
Keep it up

Northern Creative said...

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a message City Slicker. Your's too is an excellent blog. Would love to hear some NYC stories if you have any...

dormerportal said...

I'll tell you exactly what happened to the innocent joys of kid's parties, the parents realised it was quite so innocently joyful having to deal with all the stress, mess, squabbles and screams when they could pay someone else to do it - can't fault them on that. My Mum once worked out she must have done about 84 kids parties during her time as a parent, with no help at all - no wonder she eventually collapsed!