It ended with a small child launching our boutique white pebbles at the recently oiled front deck. As the pebbles bounced off the weatherboards and on to the shiny blackbutt timber flooring, I was overcome with rage for this pint-sized stranger.
This blatant act of vandalism was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
Running a fourth birthday is kryptonite to the middle-aged father and this act of pure evil presented me with two options… Seize the pebbles from this junior’s vice-like grip or adopt a flanking manoeuvre to outwit him. Both seemed excessive but necessary considering the situation.Want to join the family? Sign up to our Kidspot newsletter for more stories like this.
"Our first born was four"
The day started with joy and what I thought was an unbreakable positive spirit. Our first born was four and would get his first pedal bike! I’d even managed to recover from the price tag and put it down to an educational experience. “Aluminium must now be a rare metal” I chuckled to myself.
"If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?" - Milton Berle
As the rare blue and orange aluminium artifact was uncovered, our little man couldn’t get past the $3 balloon affixed to the handlebars. The bike was virtually discarded and with it, our social media video and careful hashtag planning… #surprise #first #bike had been erased with #ungrateful #little #sh*t.
I remained undeterred and enthusiastically helped to open the remaining presents. After the process was finished, our golden child only displayed an interest in the cheap balloon and anything with a high quantity of sugar.
“We should have bought a bike made out of sugar,” I mumbled to my wife through gritted teeth.
This grimace was replaced with a smile as the doorbell rang with the first of 12 gorgeous children from the local day care group.Brad and his family. Image: Instagram/wanderingoceaneyes.
"The children seemed like angels"
At first glance, these children seemed like angels. They were very shy and came bearing generous and over-sized gifts. I greeted the adults with a drink as introducing grog to the proceedings early (and frequently) is a sure-fire way to convert strangers into acquaintances.
To get little kids to be quiet, lower your voice instead of raising it. This forces kids to focus. Got a whole pack to corral? Whisper, "If you want to hear what we're doing next, hop on one foot." Goofy jumping is bound to be contagious.
“This is going great,” I thought as pass the parcel and the piñata were executed seamlessly. One kid lost his mind over a lack of zebra stickers in the piñata, but I was in such a groove, I carefully shook the fluoro donkey as I laughed with a new acquaintance.“They are not Zebra stickers but Zonkey stickers,” I explained. It was great to share with my new friend how the Mexicans paint their donkey’s with fake Zebra stripes to attract tourist photos. At that moment, the piñata coughed out a couple of remaining Zonkey stickers to mend the kids' spirit and restore our party to 100 percent good times.
Another acquaintance threw me a shaka as my wife happily smiled. That was the moment the party transitioned from Zonkey trivia to Lord of the Flies.As I dipped into my Aloha Spirit and attempted to return the shaka, our son initiated the carnage by hurling a totem tennis racquet into the champagne glasses. An unknown child then smelt blood and methodically smashed our new pink bubble machine to smithereens.
The soapie bubbly fluid mixed with the broken glass as our attention was diverted to the trampoline.
Kiss and hug your spouse in front of the kids. Your marriage is the only example your child has of what an intimate relationship looks, feels, and sounds like. So it's your job to set a great standard.
The aftermath of the Zonkey. Image: Instagram/wanderingoceaneyes.
"His mother blamed the smorgasbord"With trained precision, little Johnny started to fly kick other smaller infants on the bouncing surface. His mother proceeded to blame our smorgasbord. It went something like, “Johnny lives on carrot and celery; his ultimate fighting tactics were born on the excessive fairy bread and cake you dished out”.
Sugar is an easy substance to blame when your child starts malfunctioning.
It was hard to prioritise between rescuing the other trampolining enthusiasts or removing the jagged soapie glass from the main entertaining area. It was at that precise moment that my favoured white pebbles started to crash into the house.
"Everyone started to leave quickly"
Whether I would have to forcibly remove the stones from the child’s grip or flank him in a battalion-style exercise was inexplicably taken out of my hands... Everyone started to leave quickly and without warning! There was a short period of intense traffic in our street and then it was calm again.
As my wife and I retired to sweeping glass off the deck, I also felt a little broken. My spirit was somewhat restored when our four-year-old exclaimed that it was the best birthday party ever!
Gossip about your kids. Fact: What we overhear is far more potent than what we are told directly. Make praise more effective by letting your child "catch" you whispering a compliment about him to Grandma, Dad, or even his teddy.
Flashbacks of oiling the deck last Summer filled my mind as we found a couple of unbroken champagne glasses and made a toast. Like every good parent, it was agreed that we’d go through this ritual again next year.This post originally appeared on Wandering Ocean Eyes and has been republished here with permission. You can follow Brad and his family's adventures on Instagram.