Last week I went to dinner with friends to find them deep in bouncy castle and party bag negotiations for their daughter's fourth birthday party on Saturday. "I'm free!" I said, and an extra pair of adult hands was welcomed with open arms. My invitation promised 'There will be bouncing and cake'. I was not disappointed on either front.
As it turned out, my dubious kid-wrangling skills were not called into play, as the guests were occupied first by the bouncy castle then by a hugely enthusiastic entertainer who had them hitting tambourines and dressing in African costumes. They mostly ignored anyone more than three inches taller than they were, although I got the occasional random hug and, once, a solemnly presented, single crisp. Meanwhile the grown-ups stood around drinking booze and laughing at the children.
This was the first fourth birthday party I'd attended since I was...well, fourish, and if I'd known they were so much fun I'd have started gatecrashing them ages ago. I also got a loot bag containing pirate tattoos, a foil sachet which, when squeezed, produces a bang and 'smell of farts' (I have not yet tried this), and a glow-in-the-dark whistle.
On Sunday I visited the friends for whom I'd been cat-sitting. The cat ignored me now his regular servants were back, but their eighteen-month-old daughter kept handing me her cuddly toys until I had a lapful. Her dad asked her how she'd known I was a furry. Since she does not yet speak intelligible English, she wasn't telling.