I had a question to ask some of the ladies I met at the kiddie birthday party a few days ago.
This one to the SAHM who I was talking to and casually asked, so what do you do?
‘Oh I’m home, raising my son,’ says she.
I smiled and looked around at the crowds of kids milling around. ‘Which one is he?’
‘I don’t know where he is,’ she shrugged… ‘he’s somewhere with the maid.’
Right. So you’re home doing nothing but raising a five year old and still can’t manage him at a party sans maid!
To the Working Mom who I was in conversation with – ‘And which one is yours?’
Shrug. ‘No idea. I’m so tired after the work week that I don’t have the strength to chase him around at a party. He’s with the maid.’
Right. So you’re either busy working or too tired to be with him.
The conversations went on and my impressions weren’t formed on just those lines incase you imagine so. These were just the most striking lines to my mind. For one – the only time I saw them with their children was when they were on the way out. And then they were rather impressed that the OA was attending the baby party with me and we hadn’t brought a maid for help. They wanted to know how I got him to ‘help out’ and attend.
I smiled and said – By setting a good example and also reminding him that he is a father, not a sperm donor. I don’t think they liked me much.
Three mothers giggle in a corner and tease a five year old boy – ‘Really, there are no return gifts at this party. Go ask aunty. First – how is that funny? Second – do you really want to teach your five year old to ask for gifts? While I frantically tell the 22 month old Bean to shush up and not put her hand out for one.
Another five year old little boy is getting mercilessly teased. His head was probably shaved at some point because his hair has grown back but the little choti that is left sometimes, has grown long and comes down to his collar. The other children cruelly make clicking sounds and ask him if its his tail. His eyes are carefully lined with kohl. Which is so not on at a snooty Delhi party where the kids wear designerwear. Are you a girl? tease the other children.
He ignores them and runs around beign destructive. The hostess just about prevents him from knocking over the table with the cake. At the activity counter he drives the party organisers nuts by throwing paint everywhere. A maid follows him with an untouched plate of pasta and tries to discipline him unsuccessfully.
The organisers are painting nameplates for the kids on various cardboard cutouts. I get one made for the Bean and help the Brat create one for himself. The maid imperiously orders them to hurry up with the nameplate for her ward. They ask her his name. While she might have the airs of a big businessman’s wife, she’s still an uneducated maid and she says something completely unintelligible. The two party organisers ask her to repeat and finally try to spell the name that sounds like nothing on earth. I ask her where the parents are and she says they never come. I finally understand her Bengali accent and realise what she is trying to say. I correct them and tell them what the name should be. On checking with the hostess, I’m right. I should have let the nameplate go back with the wrong name. The child can’t read and his parents should learn what comes of just sending a kid off to every single party with a maid – even those held on Sundays.
So the OA and I are probably the only fools who chase kids around the party, feed them cake, pull them out of ball ponds, prevent them from greedily stuffing their face with fries and rudely asking for the return gift. It shouldn’t really matter to us. Except that our kids are growing up in the company of these ill mannered hooligans who learn their manners from the domestic help and run riot.
I’m going to be generous and say it’s even okay to bring along a maid for a family party because you would like to catch up with your friends and family. But this is a baby birthday party. It’s about the children. You’re there for the children and for them to enjoy themselves. Not to sit around in high heels while the maids help your children to paint nameplates… Wake up before their childhood slips away.