Taking Stock - January 13, 2014

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Peer pressure, one upmanship and the constant hunt for acceptance - the schoolyard is a tough place.

And I’m not on about the children either.

Parents are a tricky bunch, none more so than when there’s a birthday party involved.

The Munchkin turns six this week and to celebrate she’s having a party.

That’s pretty much all she’s having - we offered the choice of a big party or some big presents and she went for the former.

That’s the work of a clever little tyke if you ask me, The Munchkin having surmised that even if there’s nought but trinkets from mum and dad, nana and pop are bound to come up with the goods, not to mention the haul of goodies she’s likely to get from her classmates.

Party planning has been driving My Good Wife doolally over the last couple of weeks - she was bothering about the birthday bash well before planning started for Christmas.

Do you hire the kids entertainer? Who’s doing the catering? Is Earls Court available for the right date and are One Direction free?

When it comes to parties things haven’t changed much since my own schooldays. Even then it was rare to go to somebody’s actual house - as a parent I realise that’s because of the horrifying amount of litter, fingerprints, stickiness and grot left behind.

The key was to make it into the rich kids’ good books and bag an afternoon at Jungle Jim’s or Professor Peabody’s where you could bid farewell to your inhibitions and most of the skin on your knees.

Second best was a trip to the Over Wyre equivalent -famed for an under floor tunnel in which the bigger kids laid constant ambush plans and possibly the world’s worst dancing musical fountains.

It was tremendous fun.

I don’t know if the place is still there but I’d give anything for one last go on Tarzan’s trail.

I don’t think for a second we’re going to put on the party of the year. But that doesn’t matter. Give a kid two hours of crazy playtime, a couple of fishfingers and a party bag full of sugar and, you know, the job’s a good ‘un.