A long-distance, no hug, no kiss, Zoom party is not the same thing at all...

Sue Russell in her weekly WoW! column
A long-distance, no hug, no kiss, Zoom party is not the same thing at all...
This is a scene many a grandparent is hoping to replicate soon, as they miss their grandchildren. Picture: Stock, posed by model

IN normal circumstances I am not a big fan of children’s parties.

Back in the day when I was hosting such events, I found them very stressful. If a party is not up to scratch, children are not slow to tell you so. I used to say that I’d rather organise ten parties for adults than one for children.

After my own pair grew out of them there were decades when I didn’t have to come next, nigh or near enclosed spaces full of children high as kites on sugar and expectation. Then came my grandchildren and I was once again plunged into the annual frenzy of birthday celebrations – although at least this time round I could run for the hills if the noise level went over my cut off limit.

So it came as a shock to hear myself say to my daughter that I wished we could have had a ‘proper’ party for my darling little Misses Kisses who was seven last week. A long-distance, no hug, no kiss, Zoom party is not the same thing at all.

As I write it is now eleven and a half weeks since I kissed and hugged herself and her brother and some days it feels like a very long time indeed. I would have given anything to have been in the same room with her – screeching children and all – as she blew out the candles on her birthday cake.

I miss them so much. I close my eyes sometimes and try to visualise them here beside me on the couch, or out in the garden, or sitting round the table. I try to remember the laughs, the adventures, the snuggles and indeed the occasional struggles over bedtime, finishing the last few mouthfuls of dinner or chasing after them to put their hats on.

In the grand scheme of things I know that three months is not a lot of time. But the older I get the more I realise how fast these precious years fly and how quickly they grow up. In no time at all rice krispie cakes and party bags will be replaced by outings with friends at which grannies – and parents - will be surplus to requirements.

In fairness her mother – my daughter – had done a sterling job of trying to make the best of it. She had organised us all – grandparents from three different locations and an auntie in Holland – to be at the end of our phones at the same time.

We each had some candles and a cake and took it in turn to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and blow out the candles at our respective locations. Delighted with the novelty of it all and thrilled to be centre of attention, Misses Kisses took it all in her stride.

But it wasn’t the same thing at all. I didn’t need to arrive early to help my daughter with the preparations. I didn’t have to dress up, lead any party games or try to find a quiet corner for five minutes to relieve my aching ears.

But neither did I see the look of delight on Misses Kisses face as her birthday cake was revealed. I didn’t feel her arms around me as I delivered my birthday hug. I didn’t see her curls bounce as she flashed by me in the garden. I didn’t see her laugh and dance with her friends. She didn’t sit on my lap in the aftermath to talk me through this year’s haul of pink plastic toys.

I shed a few tears my end when I turned off the phone and thankfully number one son was on hand to give me a big hug as we tucked into the birthday cake. But still my heart aches for little Misses Kisses. Roll on next birthday and we will make it the noisiest, most sugar-filled birthday ever and there will be no complaints from me!

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