Confessions of a mumzilla: My son is having a birthday bash whether he likes it or not!
"What sort of lights do you want? The guy says he can bring pretty much anything – flashing traffic lights, disco balls, ultra violets..."
"Shhhhhh!" replied Will, with more than a hint of exasperation, "I'm trying to watch The Simpsons."
This sort of exchange has been occurring for the past few weeks now. On Saturday, I will be throwing Will's 10th birthday party. Tenth! A momentous occasion, I think. A whole decade of life to be celebrated for both of us. My son however, thinks otherwise.
While I scribble notes about catering, colour schemes, themes and playlists, he has been sulkily shaking his head and asking 'why can't I just go to laser quest like last year?'.
Well, my belligerent little tween, THIS is why you can't spend your special day having exactly the same birthday treat as you've had (against my wishes) for the past three years: Mummy wants a party.
Historically, I always made a huge fuss about his birthdays: his first was celebrated with a posh new outfit (I cringe now, but a knickerbocker suit shipped a ridiculous cost from America) a photo-shoot, a baby-friendly birthday cake I spent days making, and a special best-china-and-tablecloths afternoon tea party for his 'friends' and family.
When he was two, I hired an enormous church hall and a fair-ground sized bouncy castle, ball pit and bubble machine. He wore a velvet three piece suite and leather brogues... And so it continued.
I am particularly proud of his fourth, where I single-handedly turned a local venue into a pirate ship, pride of place being given to an amazing chocolate sponge galleon I'd spent a week constructing, and my son sported a HAND MADE pirate outfit.
It's fair to say I was an early adopter of the birthday-party-mumzilla phenomena. But then things slowed down once he started school. Suddenly, he wanted his celebrations at softplay, bowling alleys and activity centres where a 'party' was no more than a couple of hours of screaming and shouting followed by a disgusting deep-fried meal that he wouldn't eat anyway.
My control was gone, handed over to spotty couldn't-care-less Saturday workers in polyester uniforms and a longing for their shift to be over. And as far as I was concerned, with that loss of control came a total loss of fun.
So his 10th, I decided, would be back to what constitutes my basics: a pull-out-all-the-stops, full on disco, a PROPER party, an evening event with a DJ, a nightclub theme and a buffet of REAL food that grown ups could eat, too.
And while my son may flounce out of the sitting room as he hears me asking our local party shop to describe EXACTLY the shades of blue they have numeric balloons in, I know at least two of my mum-chums totally understand what I'm trying to achieve, especially my friend Holly who is even worse than me when it comes to micro-managing birthdays and throwing dos of showbiz proportions.
"I AM a partyzilla," she tells me unashamedly, "Birthdays are just MY THING. I always made a huge fuss of them, and that really set the bar high for when I had kids..."
Holly's eldest son's first birthday ran to a wedding-style format.
"We booked the function room above a posh gastropub," she says, quite blasé. "There were poems and speeches and a gigantic hand-crafted cake tower."
Birthdays continued in a similar fashion, with her seven-year-old's last bash really taking the biscuit.
"We decided to invite the whole class," she says, "He was Harry Potter mad at the time, so that was the theme. The kids came in fancy dress and there was Quidditch and Bertie Bott's any flavour jelly beans."
Holly decorated the venue with printed out quotes from the Potter books, and provided all the guests with magic wands. Her son, however, wanted to arrive at the event in style – aboard an actual Harry Potter broom...
"After frantically searching for days I eventually found one on eBay," she says. "I wrapped it up with a note handwritten by Dumbledore and left it on our doorstep for him to find before the party. It was OTT and indulgent and mad, but I love it and frankly, I will not stop."
And that's half the problem – once you start, you really cannot stop – even when you are at the stage I am at and your kids are practically on their knees begging you to let their birthday pass without glitter-infested, colour-coordinated incident.
Something my friend Jane, mum to two-year-old Freddie should perhaps bear in mind...
"I went into mumzilla mode for my son's second birthday party recently. So much so that 10 minutes before the event, I broke down in tears panicking he wasn't going to enjoy all my hard work," she confesses. "I'd put so much effort in and took so much pride in it all."
Like me, Jane is amazed that some mums don't throw parties for their kids, or just make do with a session at an activity centre.
"I secretly thought that a recent soft play party was not as good as my son's because so little effort had been made," she admits, "By contrast, I make my son a special cake, proper party invites and do goody bags. And I invite ALL his little friends – some mums just do an event for immediate relatives or two toddlers!"
I so agree – two toddlers at a soft play centre does not a party make. To me, Jane's party-planning is totally how it should be – weeks of effort, endless lists, and a pre-party diva sobbing session to let out all the stress and anxiety!
And surely no one would disagree that kids' birthdays should be full on festivals of frivolity and indulgence, would they? Apart from maybe my son, who after 10 years of my partyzilla ways has totally had his fill of my brand of celebration...
Do you go over the top with your children's birthdays or do you think this is silly?