It is that time of year again when men and women don the red suit and entertain the children. Add to that, the Christmas party with the children’s entertainer, and for my children you have agony and ecstasy all in one package. A terrifying performance, followed by sitting on a complete stranger’s lap, ending in the receiving of a present (the ecstasy part).
I have never been a huge lover of parties; dancing is my thing, so if I can dance, then it’s a party. But if I have to make conversation, then copious amounts of alcohol are required for me. I love a chat, but as soon as I feel that I have to chat, then my conversation well runs dry. There have been many work Christmas parties and New Year’s Eve parties over the years, some painful ordeals, others, more fun than they should be, with just the right amount of party guilt the next day. I am a bit scared that my children will follow my lead and become social hermits, unless the option of dancing until they have blisters is on the cards. Anyway, I am leading myself down tangent boulevard, so back to the children,
Yesterday the children were all dressed up in their unique mix of charity shop style and stained clothing – beautiful party outfits gather dust in our wardrobes, whereas the charity shop finds for school dress up events get loved to bits. DD the 2nd loves her clothes to be 1 to 2 sizes too small, with just the right amount of staining to show how loved the item is. While DD the 1st just mixes the most amazing combos of clothing styles.
We arrived at a party arranged by a local club that their Granddad belongs to (all the names changed to protect the not so innocent). The children knew no one, which is always a bad start for DD the 1st. The entertainer was in full swing with her microphone head-gear in action, singing tunelessly to the Christmas sound track. Embarrassingly, the oldest child made a run for it and had to be subtly restrained and dragged back into the room with the promise that we would not leave her side, with Granddad looking on, expecting joy and exuberance. One of the tallest children in the room then spent the entire ‘performance’ sitting on my knee, only transferring to her Dad’s knee, when the threat of DVT became real.
The entertainer had an energy I can only dream off, not stopping performing for the entire party. She was possibly the wrong side of the inappropriate line for some of the performance, but many of the children lapped it up. She made no secret of her ability to easily transform her show into the adult version, with some very old style innuendos thrown in at every opportunity. At one point she bent over her box of props in her gold sparkly trousers repeatedly asking if we were looking at her bum, whilst wiggling said bum, saying, “This is one for the grandads.” Our Granddad was present and I didn’t feel much enthusiasm for the sight, from his corner of the room.
There was much reference to a duck that never actually made an appearance, using her duck caller, she tried to summon the duck from the back of the room, telling the adults to show some enthusiasm and help with her search for the duck. This was a bit of a tumbleweed moment as no one joined her in her fruitless search. She decided later in the show to try this part of the act again and was met with similar disinterest from the crowd. I almost felt a bit sorry for her at this point, had I not lost all feeling in my legs, I might have gone to search for the duck myself. We were handed flyers at the end that referred to a game on her website, where we got to search for the duck. The duck mystery remains though, as I was not even vaguely tempted to try the game.
There were constant fart and nose picking jokes throughout the show. Dont get me wrong, I know the impact of a fart joke on children is major, but I think even they were beginning to wonder if this woman just had serious dietary issues. A cute dog puppet was brought into play; everyone loves a puppet, right? It was fluffy and even got my 2 laughing, but it was a bit obsessed with sniffing its own bottom. This joke was slightly overplayed, but the kids were giggling by this point, so I started to feel some relief.
The trick with the magically appearing lights appealed to both me and the children; got to love anything with sparkly lights. This was the best part of the show and contained almost no fart jokes. However, there was another tumbleweed moment when she decided to roll up a piece of paper, winking, saying, “Here is one for those of us who went to college.” The visual on this was her pretending to roll up and smoke a joint (well I can only imagine that was what she meant, as how could I possibly know!!) Getting little or no reaction, she went for the same joke a second time, making it even more obvious she was smoking the rolled up piece of paper. Second time was met with even less reaction than the first.
The levitation behind her flying carpet trick was made hilarious, as she struggled to get her boots back on, after taking them off to make it look like she flew.
I know I am being a cynical old grown up; the children seemed to genuinely enjoy show, it was just us grumpy old adults that perhaps weren’t feeling it. She was quite assertive, to say the least, and had no problem telling off the ‘grown ups’ for talking through her show, as well as asking for volunteers who ‘wouldnt go running to mummy.’ But, despite some giggles, I think that overall, my 2 found the whole experience quite terrifying. In much the same way that they have felt with the entertainers of previous parties. There was the mad magician balloon man, who would have looked at home at Glastonbury, a lovely lady, who is very well know in these parts and puts on a great show, a balloon blowing clown, as well as one I hired myself who just danced and played simple games. I would have thought the dancing lady would have been a hit, but these 2 little people are a tough crowd.
Is it just my children though? Is it possible that us adults think we know what a child might find funny, think one size fits all and then just go for it in an energetic way? They are brave, enthusiastic, funny and clever people, who do a job that I would never in a million years be able to, but is it for everyone? I’m not so sure, or at least I hope that it is not just my children who are weird.
So the entertainer took a break while party food was served. Then it was time for the man in the red suit. It was all very nicely done, with a small firework display, followed by a fairy lighted golf cart driving across the grass, to the delight of even my children. It all took a quite a while and the anticipation was almost too much for some of the children, but my 2 too stood firm and waited for their gifts to arrive. Eventually in walked Santa, ringing his bell, complaining that he had to walk most of the way and sounding ever so slightly embarrassed to be there. He was a man of few words, so no lap sitting chat was required to get the ultimate reward of the pre-bought presents (our gifts were provided by the parents /grandparents prior to the party) Needless to say the entertainer had to make reference to Santa’s very full sack; to little, or no response from the audience. Then followed a roll call of names as children walked up to pose for a photo and collect their gift. Youngest child initially whispered that Dad needed to go with her, but I think once she realised she could grab and run, she went solo. It is a lovely tradition that I want my children to enjoy, but when we talk to them constantly about stranger danger, can they really be confident with this stranger in a red suit? As he was leaving the room, the rather awkward Santa had no problem sitting himself onto the lap of one of the men in the crowd, making me wonder if perhaps this man might not be the real Santa after all.
From the first interaction with Santa at a young age, my children have cried, squirmed and trembled their way through the experience, driven on only by the promise of a gift at the end of the ordeal. Now, almost to the end of believing, I am not sure they are ever going to relish the experience and see it for the true childhood joy that it should be. Have I let them down in some way, or it is just something that we can’t force?