I'd managed to arrange something for many of my family members to do to help celebrate my 40th birthday, but five were unable to go. I call them my niblings; it's to nephews and nieces as siblings is to brothers and sisters. Such a cute word; I used it with the first when he was little and the only one (so "my nephew" would've been enough) and it never went away. I remember being at my younger brother's wedding and it was time for the younger generation to come up for photos. One call of Niblings! and up they came in the blink of an eye.
There are currently five of them: Alfie (11), Max (7), Mia (5), Oscar (3) and George (1). I didn't want them to miss out and I didn't want to miss out on them either, so I asked my sister to arrange for them to throw me a surprise children's party.
I was late, of course. That goes without say. But Clare and I arrived to a quiet house, met by Matt, my brother-in-law, informing me that nobody was there but he was sure they'd be back soon. Well, I'd just have to walk through and wait for them, wouldn't I?
Great! They were all there and so was I! Time to start playing then!
We started with pin the tail on the donkey. Alfie needs to learn that at about eight feet tall, he's going to have to crouch if he wants to get anywhere close:
Oscar gave it a good shot:
Mia ... eh, not quite so good:
Max is a cheater and got busted feeling the edges!
Judge Shanie dealt with that problem:
One thing that's good about being a hobbler is that you're bent over quite naturally at just the right height:
I think George won overall:
We celebrated with some lollipops:
Then came my favourite game: pass the parcel. It was a bit of a near miss; Oscar and Mia had decided to start attacking the parcel not long after I arrived but Lucy wrapped up the outer layer again.
George was chuffed to win Thomas the Tank Engine:
Alfie's present didn't bring quite the same sense of fun as the others' had but they'll come in very useful when he's in Lapland in a fortnight's time; they're grips to prevent slipping on the compacted snow:
I learned that all the niblings are cheats. Look at how they tried to tear the parcel out my hands before I barely had a chance to touch it!
We played musical statues. The rules are simple; when the music stops, you have to freeze. The first one to move is out.
And then out came the cake. James and Pam had done the homework for this one:
I had to recruit Oscar to help me with the job of blowing out the candles:
All five of them were briefly quiet enough to pose for a photo, though George wasn't fully signed-up to the idea of smiling:
I thought that was the end of it but no, I'd forgotten that other great part of children's parties; getting presents!
I soon unwrapped a box of beer but they had saved me a very special present till last. It seemed a bit tricky for an old man's fingers, so I recruited Mia and Oscar to help me:
What was it?
It was my favourite present, that's what!
That's going to take pride of place on a wall once I get organised!
The day wasn't over yet, though; there was a table set, complete with triangular jam sandwiches, dinosaur serviettes, crispy cakes, and crisps. The niblings were all seated and there were two free spaces. It also happened to be James's birthday (he was a gift from my parents on the day I turned seven) so we were the guests of honour:
Blimey! I was tired after all this and needed to get ready for the main event in the evening, so had to leave. But this was tonnes of fun and everybody had done me proud. If they're not totally embarrassed of me by then, we'll have to try it again for my fiftieth!