Today marked another mini milestone in the glorious world of Dexter's NCT buddies: Arthur's birthday. Hurrah - a birthday party on a Sunday, and double hurrah - a party at the boy's old stomping ground: Gymboree!
I have blogged previously about the infamous music and soft play cavern of dreams in the Churchill Square Shopping Centre, and the whole family woke with a sense of genuine excitement this morning at the fun that lay ahead. Dexter was awake at 6.30am, unheard of for him at the weekend, and I took this to be his anticipation at the prospect of seeing his mates and a reunion with Gymbo the Clown...
The biggest disappointment was that Arthur's mummy, Stella, had been struck down by the dreaded lurgy and wasn't able to go to the party. The biggest surprise was that as Dan (Arthur's daddy - he of the Scorch the glove puppet fame) and Arthur greeted us, a normally tardy Team Wayne was first to arrive.
We got our name stickers on, shoes off and got ready for some fun as the other mums, dads and little 'uns arrived. It was actually really lovely to be back there. Gymbo and his trusty sidekick, Guy, were on fine form and we were soon joining in with the clapping, singing and general lunacy. This took a turn for the worse when Guy (Head Gymboree honcho), produced a sack of maracas with a majestic flourish and a loud baritone announcement of, "And here are the maracas'..." Cue hysterical crying from Dexter. At first it was quite amusing as it seemed to be just the initial noise that upset him. However, as the cries got louder and more plaintive, it seemed to be the case that the boy has an irrational fear of percussion instruments. We had to take him round the corner of the play gym and calm him down at the ball pool. I was a little gutted (selfishly), as the maracas routine seemed to involve some pretty nifty moves to some seventies disco classics. When this section of the activities had finished, Dexter was just about in a fit state to rejoin the celebrations. I felt the need to announce publicly that I do not beat my son with Latin American rumba shakers.
The remaining activities were a little calmer and involved some coloured scarves and elephant finger puppets amongst other things - yes, the whole experience was wonderfully surreal. At the end of all the fun, Stella and Dan had made a brilliant picnic lunch for the babies and a gorgeous cake, accompanied by a much-needed bit of booze for the grown-ups. Dexter is definitely his mother's son, and the appearance of some delicious homemade savoury muffins and flapjacks (thanks Stella and sister, Helen), calmed him down significantly as he happily tucked in. A less traumatised boy stuffing his face is the feature of today's #366 photo - birthday boy is just to the right, in the chimp sweater.
The day's loveliness continued as a number of us continued the party with some lunch at a nearby pub. The boy had a snooze and woke up a little grumpy. Fortunately, my very organised friend, Hannah, seems to carry a small mobile pharmacy with her and one sachet of teething granules and a shot of Calpol later, saw Dexter a little more content.
I don't know whether the boy can't cope with loud noises, organised fun, or it's just that his teeth are bothering him - which seems most likely. Perhaps that 6.30am wake-up call wasn't sheer unadulterated excitement after all. Let's hope we're in for a peaceful night...