Tuesday, November 25, 2008

~ the party mill

my daughter's first attempt at a sick note

It may seem unbelievable, but in my prep class, there were fifty kids. In Polly’s there are about nineteen and ten of these are girls. When birthdays come up, the boys go to the boys’ parties and the girls to the girls’. There are no exclusions and little overlap.

By the time of Polly’s birthday in November, the ten girls of Prep P were experienced social operators. That is - they were familiar with each other in the celebratory context, (as well as the educational). They’d been to lots of parties and their behaviour was becoming formalised: with the screaming, the dancing, the eating ... Familiarity with the process also makes it easier on the parents; they know what the children expect and deliver it. Nice and simple. A party mill. Drop them off at one end. Let the apparatus do its sweet pink deafening business. Pick them up two hours later.

One can even have it done by a third party. Any Fairy Shop worth its salt will run a lucrative sideline in girls' parties. And, for children of the void, there is always the freakish hamburger clown, whose minions will happily provide a loud, reliable, desolate, fattening sub-celebration.

The birthday girl functions at an extreme level of excitement. Rationality evaporates in a welter of cake and chocolate crackles. Hard won conditioning is lost in a chaos of triumphal screaming. and the security of pack-behaviour. The most trivial of slights or misadventures brings a flood of tears and it is no wonder. The ductile young brain, (perhaps excluding the pre-frontal cortex,) runs red hot at one of these birthday parties. Like locusts the children descend upon table loads of treats, reducing them to a sticky ruin before proceeding to the next vortex of fun. There is something wildly orgiastic about a six year old’s birthday party.

This year, to my shame, I failed to manufacture a piñata. Instead I forked out a ridiculous sum for a prefab: a traditional pink quadruped which might have passed as a horned alpaca or llama, if it hadn't been advertised as a ‘mystical unicorn’...

And the shimmering mountain of gifts. Bratz dolls. Bratz bedding. Bratz stationary. A catadapt Brat. Two Polly Pocket equestrian sets, [horses and dolls with matching outfits and bridles indistinguishable from hats]. A revolving fish nightlight. A Veronicas outfit. Make-your-own-windchimes. Make-your-own-finger-puppets. Jigsaw puzzles. Skipping rope. Hair accessories. And Beados - the replacement for Bindeez. [These ones taste more poisonous than strychnine.]

With the removal of packaging, the gift mountain diminished by two-thirds, but it was still impressive. Too impressive. A monument to over-consumption.

I have a plan for next year and it involves making Polly’s party carbon-neutral. We’ll arrange for a few very nice presents, but beyond that ... guests will be invited to spend potential gift money on the salvation of the moonbears ... or on carbon offsets ...

(... or on the installation of a modish self-destruct switch assembly on the dash of their SUVs. Passing drivers will envy its design ethic and its subtle metallic sheen. They will not previously have seen the colours thream and plome employed in a commercial device, (though they may have heard media reports of their discovery by the deep space robot-probe orbiting Fomalhaut.) ...

- You know, he could just reach over and just ... flick it, observed Ahenobarbus with undisguised envy.

His wife looked up from the pages of her magazine.

Keep your eye on the road, Ahenobarbus.)

Polly’s friend Mia was the odd one out. She’s not at school yet and is just a little timid. She is also innately sensible. When asked why she wasn’t playing with the others, she replied, “I just don’t want to run around screaming, that’s all”.

a guy from one of my wife's life-drawing classes produced this pastel sketch

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NickH said...

That is great pastel drawing. I am often amazed at how good some people are in the visual art/drawing and painting medium. My stuff's more mega old school caveman-era.

lily was here said...

No pinata?! Awww. Sam, I cant believe a year's gone by? Ta for sharing your observations, photos and memories. Im standing on the corner watching the party go by. I can relate to that little girls wonderful comment :)Sometimes you just dont wanna.

love xox