Children’s birthday parties are not as I remember them.
Our two local grandchildren were invited to a birthday party at Huia Pool in Lower Hutt. Since we were looking after them while their parents were briefly elsewhere, it fell to me to go to the pool to observe the jollities and to bring them home afterwards.
I have never been a good swimmer, and I liken my style in the water to that of a combine harvester in full flight that has been dropped over a cliff*. There is lots of motion and splash, but little progress. Perhaps for that reason, or perhaps because the pool has always had a reputation for being excessively chlorinated, I have never been fond of Huia, though heaven knows, our own five kids all spent a lot of time there.
But, there I was again, for the first time in many years. It was a dark winter evening, and little had changed. Both the children’s pool, and the main pool had been hired out for two unconnected parties, one for the six and seven year olds where my grandchildren were, and the other for a group of young teenage girls. The noise in each space was astonishing. Shrieking is the new conversation.
The outside temperature must have been about 6 degrees C. Huia is a heated pool, and the temperature inside may have been around 22 degrees C. The instant I came through the doors, my glasses and the lens and viewfinder on my camera all fogged up. Happily, I had a good quality lens cloth with me, so a wipe every few minutes or so gave me at least partial vision for most of the time. And eventually the camera acclimatized and the problem diminished.
Pools are more than a place for athletes to do laps, it seems. The main pool had a huge inflatable obstacle course which the youngsters could walk along or jump from. In the children’s pool, the main excitement was provided by a flying fox ( … a rope on a pulley sliding down a stretched wire). there were, of course, slides, fountains, and floating things, and kids make their own fun.
My image for today is of an unknown (to me) child just after the moment of splash-down on the flying fox.
Regardless of my slightly curmudgeonly view of all this, the forty or fifty kids at the party had a lot of fun, and were filled up with lots of sugar laden fizzy drink, and at the end of the evening, were each sent off with a cup cake and a bag of sweets (candies for those in the US). Oh joy, kids bouncing off the walls for the rest of the night.
Five sleeps till lift-off.
*acknowledgement to a long forgotten edition of Reader’ Digest