Stood up

Pin pricks of panic tweak my brain stem as the minutes pass, more birthday party guests arrive and there is no sign of his dad. Two hours of merriment seems more and more unlikely as friends gather to celebrate his 8th birthday at a local venue.

Parents depart one by one leaving me with an assortment of 14 children, three of my own, nine special needs children and two extra siblings, just to make it that little bit more fun. I am the only adult person present and not particularly responsible.

I make a dash for the back door to check it is locked and then to the front entrance where there is a youthful chap behind the till, “don’t let any of them leave!” I squeak and skuttle back to the smalls. I know for a fact that I have at least three bolters in my charge and two of them are mine!

I spend one hundred and twenty minutes in a state of high alert, encouraging climbers to remain earthbound, persuading picky eaters to shrug it off, negotiating disputes and opening those tricky juice pouches.

There are no meltdowns, no escapes and very little ill will.

As the last child is collected, I am ready with my sigh of relief. I am about to give myself a hearty pat on the back for my outstanding service to a successful social scene when light dawns. The success has absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with the children. Each and every one of them is bigger, brighter and possibly happier than a few years ago.

Congratulations not so little people!

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