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I’m the first to admit that I’m not really a social butterfly. I can get by. However, as I’ve grown older I’ve become so much more aware of how awkward I am and I feel like this radiates from me. I mean, I’m not Anti-social Annie, but sitting in the corner trying to look busy is my role in the party. Unless I know you, in which case I’m the over-the-top funny one.

Today, I attended a 1 year old’s birthday party. Fortunately this was not the kind that was filled with loads of other 1 year olds accompanied by constant screaming and/or crying. It was one baby and basically a room full of adults. Well, that’s a lie, there were two young girls there who both ignored me when I spoke to them twice so I guess I was ignoring them here. Yes, I’m that petty.

So my husband and I arrive just after it begins, we bring the presents we have and we choose a seat in the corner. At this point in time it’s not too awkward. We know at least 50% of the attendees, which is good seeing as there is only about 7 of us. More people arrive and we realise that we’re becoming the awkward ones. People are talking and laughing and some are even moving around the room. I’m trying my best to keep a conversation going with my husband, which is tricky because he can’t hear me at all, and trying not to look like I’m desperately seeking the room for a hero to come and make us seem happy and sociable. No one does.

It doesn’t help that the attendees of the party are a strange mix.

There is:

  • A girl named Eden who brought along her pet snails
  • Snail girl’s father. who was acting like a boomerang between the food table and his seat on the sofa
  • A married couple. One is obsessed with babies (I really am surprised she hasn’t just stolen one) and her husband who started making balloon animals.
  • Another couple who were putting on a bit too much PDA for a kid’s party. The husband was confused when asked what ‘Jer’ was short for. Apparently it’s not short for anything, but just an indication that his parents were short on time when naming him.
  • Anti-social Annie was in attendance and caused a scene about Hipster Harry’s flight being cancelled…while birthday girl is having her cake.
  • Another girl who was trying pretty hard to be the life of a party…a little unnecessary for a first birthday party

Just to name a few..

The invite had been casual, a ‘just pop by’ situation, but as the party continued we realised that we couldn’t just slip out. The first hour was socialising, as you already know we failed at that… then it was cake, which you obviously can’t leave during. It isn’t acceptable to change the words to ‘Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you, we’re going to leave now, happy birthday to you’, and then there was the compulsory let’s watch the baby try and eat cake even though she’s not interested… we thought this was where we could take our cue. We hadn’t expected to see them open the presents but then it became a show. We began to move towards our corner of the room, our little safe haven, only to find that it had been taken by someone else. Our ranks were split. My husband sat down in the middle of a group, braving the social environment. I went to put my cake wrapper in the kitchen only to find that I couldn’t leave. Someone was having a conversation standing right in front of the door and I couldn’t bring myself to ask for them to move. Finally they did and I selected a seat next to a colleague who I had the lousiest reason to make conversation with.

During the present opening I felt sorry for the poor kid. She was more interested in the packaging rather than the impressive collecting of gifts she had been given. She had a seriously good haul – matching clothes, bubble machines, dolls, toys… I was impressed. I had tried to discourage the parents from opening our gift, ‘It’s fine, really’, but to no avail. We watched as our large present was carried over to the birthday girl, causing an awkward shadow to cover all of the other gifts.

This had made it so much more awkward. We did not want to be those people who bring a gift that outshines everyone else’s. However, we did need to bring a gift that could be combined with a baby shower present. (Long story short, there was a collection for a ridiculously expensive pushchair that we did not partake in and our excuse was that we’d bought something personal…obviously we hadn’t at the time so we had to buy something that looked worth it.)

I blurted out a disclaimer – ‘It’s a combined baby shower-birthday present’
But it didn’t help. They pulled out the seemingly over-the-top gift, an elephant rocking horse chair with optional wheels, and placed the birthday girl on it. Everyone rushed to take photos while my husband and I sat there in our puddle of awkwardness. She was cute, sure, but I wasn’t really sure what I would do with photos of our kind-of-close friends’ baby.

They were the final presents. It was the last note of the celebration and it seemed to hold attention. Adults investigated its uses, they cooed over its cuteness, they questioned its origin. It was meant to be a gift that covered my back and didn’t make me seem tight, but now it was making me seem like a show off. Finally we saw that people were beginning to move and we quickly made for the exit. Slipping on our shoes as we waved goodbye to the birthday girl, feeling guilty that she would one day feel the same awkwardness at a one year old’s birthday party, but feeling jealous that it wouldn’t be for a long time yet.