I'm on a huge learning curve as I re-enter the model/voice over/TV presenter world (in the UK) as a 41-year-old. I'm really excited to write about all that I'm learning but at this point I'm experiencing a lot of 'firsts' of signing with agencies, casting calls and auditions, lifestyle photo shoots (versus the stereotypical glamour shoots), as well as putting myself out there to try different things. So far in the past week I have recorded voice overs for a short film, an ad for a university, and auditioned for a video game character (*fingers crossed*) on top of a portfolio shoot and being cast for a car infomercial. I also just found out I'm filming an interview about parenting and to 'audition' I sent them the following story.
I thought I would share this story in the blog world - it's actually part of a chapter in my novel. Please enjoy the joy and pain of the motherhood journey of being in a different culture other than your own with me, and then drink a glass of wine . . . or a bottle.
PS - I did change my kids' names but it is a true story.
Timeless Torture, 36-years-old
There is a form of torture more gruelling than bamboo up the fingernails, whips laden with glass, the scratching of chalk boards or watching a bad Kung Fu movie. It is timeless and ancient, existing since prehistoric times. It is the ‘dragging-one-sibling-to–another-sibling’s-birthday-party-where-you-know-no-one’ torture. And it is excruciating.
My son had his first invitation to an indoor play land birthday party. My daughter was not her typical, cheery self as she had just got over a nasty cold. During the ten-minute drive Caitlyn, two years older, whined and moaned.
‘Mommy, why couldn’t I stay home? I won’t know anyone. None of my friends will be there, and all of Dylan’s friends are boiyeezzss.’
‘Sweetheart, Daddy has to work. I can’t leave you at home. You’ll have fun. Mommy doesn’t know anyone either.’
‘Mommy, please. I don’t wanna go.’ My daughter’s attitude, adding a bit more volume to her whinge, was producing dread in me. It was going to be a long two hours.
‘Caitlyn. I brought you a book if you want. But I am paying for you to play. You’ll like this place.’
We pulled up and noticed cars crammed into the tiny lot. I found a spot about a five minute’s walk away. All of Sheffield, under the age of six, was in the pirate-decorated building. Not my first choice of where I wanted to spend a wintery Saturday afternoon.
‘His name is Alphie. I think that’s party number three on your list?’ I said to the woman with the large notepad.
‘Right. Dylan, do you want a chocolate sandwich for your dinner?’ she asked my son.
‘Uh, do you have any protein? Cheese?’ I hoped Dylan hadn’t heard the word ‘chocolate’. What kid would turn that down? I wondered if I could find anything healthy on the menu.
‘Mommy, I want chocolate. I don’t want cheese or tuna,’ Dylan said. He was eager to run off as my daughter clung to my trousers.
‘Right. Alphie’s party is in the shark cave over there.’ Children and parents crowded their way through the small entrance into the chaotic kid zone.
The dim shark cave with net walls was bursting with fatigued infants and Yorkshire accented parents. I headed over, dragging my surly daughter and running after my son, so I could at least figure out who Alphie’s parents were.
‘Ayup. I’m Alphie’s mum. Me name’s Rahoegoahoeanbkdna.’
‘Sorry, what’s your name again? I can’t hear anything.’
‘It’s Rahfohewwhonbakghao. Alphie! Stop hitting your sister.’ Her voice was husky with the scent of cigarettes. The mother scurried off as I tried to interpret her name. I marvelled at how she could be speaking the same language as me. Other parents seemed engaged in gossip or looked uninterested in conversing. My daughter appeared claustrophobic in the net cave.
‘Caitlyn, go play. I’m sure out of the 100 kids here you can make a friend.’ My daughter’s mood was growing more glum.
‘Everyone is sooooooo much younger. I wanna go home now.’
‘No. We’re not leaving. Go have fun,’ I said. I forced a smile as extraterrestrial parents observed our conversation.
We left the cage and Caitlyn, with a sulk and scowl, went to find her brother and came back five minutes later not wanting to go to the toilet alone.
‘Ew Mommy, there’s a puddle of wee,’ said Caitlyn. Every time I had come to pirate indoor play area there was always a small pool next to the child’s training potty, and the room constantly reeked of urine. I urged her to hurry and then we headed back to the party area.
The bait dangled in front of the children as they sat around tables with yellow and blue plastic plates. Overcooked chips dripping with grease were passed to each child and placed next to the wrinkled pizza slices. Withered, unidentifiable cold sausages were in bowls next to radiation orange puffballs of air. One untouched plate of cucumbers and tomatoes was offered with pleading looks by each parent. I noted the difference of food that we would have at an American birthday party. I think pizza was the only similarity. It always struck me as odd that we never ate the birthday cake here, just lit the candles and sang the universal song, and then pieces were wrapped in a napkin and taken home to have as a mushier dessert later.
I tried once more to make conversation for a few minutes while my daughter sat outside the party room door. She wouldn’t come in, and I kept checking my watch. Alphie sat on a wooden throne, wearing a paper crown, and commanded everyone to be quiet. The shattered worker yelled again:
‘Kids, in five minutes we are going to do the “pen – natta”!’
I muttered under my breath: It’s pronounced pin – ya – ta. And its not fa-gi-ta’s or gel-la-pe-noz either . . . it’s Spanish, people. I hoped no one heard me as it sounded snobbish; my thin patience wasn’t going to last much longer.
‘Let’s sing “Happy Birthday” this time as a scream. Ready, kids!’ I made my exit, plugging my ears. My daughter started crying and begged again.
‘Caitlyn, we can make it 10 more minutes. After Dylan eats the ice cream, we can leave. I promise. Here, let me go buy you a special treat.’
We rushed back to the party room, and Caitlyn hoarded her new stock of sweeties that I was certain would give her dentures by the age of nine.
A few kids bashed a tissue-made ship full of candy. One kid got hit on the head, and the parents warily hugged the walls while a blind-folded three-year-old swung the lethal bat again.
And I decided I needed a hot bath and a glass of wine, or a bottle, after this party.
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