Parties are great for the people attending. Why anyone would host a party is beyond me. In primary school, parties were the be-all and end-all of friendships. Every kid in class had a List. The List being filled with those friends who were invited to your party. My best friend Nick's birthday was on October 31st, Halloween. Beginning sometime in March, I would be dramatically removed from his List then reinstated at least twice a day. Reasons for being removed from Nick's list included, but weren't limited to:
Making a joke at his expense
Not letting him copy my maths answers
Not letting him borrow a pencil/eraser/ruler
Pairing up with Sean for a project
Pairing up with James for a project
Not picking him first for lunch-time cricket
Just being annoying
These were some of the same offences that could lead to being removed from anyone's List, not just Nick's. “I'll let you come to my party” was the ultimate bribe and one used freely all year by near everyone but me.
I had been told by my mum at five years old that I could have one party. That means one party for my whole life. She said I could pick any birthday to have this party but once I'd had my one party, that was it. This is not so unreasonable when you remember she had ten kids. I have three siblings whose birthdays occur within a ten day period in May. That is too many parties. But still, I was not happy about being restricted to one party per lifetime when my friends had a party every year. My older, wiser siblings tried to tell me that it is so much better to attend a birthday than to host one but I didn't listen. I wanted to be at a party AND get to open all the presents. The bar was not set very high, either. My predecessor in parties, Kenneth, had his once-in-a-lifetime party the year before. His was a slumber party with three friends except when he woke up the next morning they were all gone, having been driven home throughout the night for various reasons, all relating to not wanting to be there.
I chose my eighth birthday for the big event. This was not really a choice, though. My mum doesn't believe in having a birthday party that isn't on the exact day of your birthday so I had to have it when I turned eight and my birthday fell on a Saturday. My dad organised it, as expected. I could invite six friends, which would make it the smallest party in the class. Quality over quantity, right? Well just you wait. I really only had four friends to invite; Nick, Sean, James, and Finn. My sister Christel said maybe I should invite some girls seeing as I myself am a girl so I added Sophia and Danielle. I planned out games and prizes to fill up the two hours that my raging party would last. Big decisions were pondered: 1-3pm or 2-4pm? Indoor vs outdoor games? What if it rained? I ended up with an Olympics theme. A series of athletic events where we competed for chocolate bar prizes. That may not sound like much fun, and my friends would later agree.
The big day arrived and I was pumped. I wore my best hawaiin shirt that my mum had sewn and waited for the festivities to begin. I don't remember the whole party but these memories have stayed with me:
I was so nervous about my friends having fun that I forgot to have fun.
Finn didn't want to do long jump so my Dad yelled at him and he cried.
Nick didn't want to shoot free throws so my Dad yelled at him and he ran away.
Sophia and Danielle didn't come dressed for athletics so chose not to participate in the whole party and instead watched The Princess Diaries with Christel.
My sister Vick saved the day by surprising everyone (myself included) with party bags.
That night my Dad asked how I enjoyed my one party and I said “It was alright” then got told off by Christel for being ungrateful.
Years later, Nick would use “Well at least I didn't have the worst party ever” as a comeback while we were arguing and it still stung.
I realised that going to parties is way better than throwing parties.
Maybe parties are just not what us Chapmans excel at. When it was baby Temara's turn for her one party a few years later, Christel and I thought we would save her the Dad-yells and organise it ourselves. Christel took Temara and her friends down to the supermarket where they were told to pick out “anything you want” for movie snacks. Then Christel's card declined at the counter and she had to put the snacks back one by one until it was accepted. There truly ain't no party like a Chapman party.