As featured in the Western Gazette 15th June 2017…

My youngest has just turned two, and to celebrate we threw him a nice little birthday party.  That was birthday party number 4 since I’ve had 2 children.  I mean the big type of party that involves lots of party food, a big cake, and all the added extras.  They seem to get bigger and more extravagant as the child gets older, and they cost the earth, but its all worth it to see their happy little faces.  That’s if they actually enjoy it.

As Lylah was about to turn two, a friend and i decided to have a joint party for our girls. My friend had already been extremely organised, and had ordered napkins, balloons etc all in the desired theme of Minnie Mouse for our Minnie crazy little beauties.

Looking at everything you can order for a birthday party can be overwhelming, and it all starts to add up rather quickly, and at 2 years of age, they just want to run around, eat a few cocktail sausages and stuff their face with cake! Mum was geared up to make the Minnie Mouse cakes, and we were going to dress our girls in Minnie inspired outfits for their big day.

Whilst having a peruse around the online pages of Amazon and eBay, I came across some Minnie and Mickey costumes. Not just the basic, plastic masked fancy dress type get ups, but full on, Disneyland style, mascot outfits, with the massive heads! Brilliant! What better thing to add to a Minnie themed party than the real (ish) thing appearing from behind some curtains and surprising our little ones. Of course they would be delighted, all smiles and cuddles for Minnie, and amazed to have met their favourite Disney character in ‘real life’!

We were both up for the idea, so I proceeded to find the best priced mascot on the internet. Unfortunately, the reasonably priced ones to buy would all have to travel from China and wouldn’t make it to us in time for the party. I then found some that you could hire. The faces weren’t quite as good as the China ones, but they were still pretty fab looking, and compared to some of the scary attempts at Disney mascots I’d already come across, these were looking like a winner. Seriously, whoever designs some of these things really don’t have the children in mind when doing so! I ordered the hire of Minnie, and shortly after, received an email from the supplier, who convinced me to take Mickey as well (I’m a sales person’s dream!)

The two enormous heads and their costumes arrived in the post a couple of days before the party. As we were having lots of work done on the house at the time, there was no where to store them, and it wasn’t long before Miss Lylah nosey pants had dug them out. I thought perhaps this was actually a good idea, it would get her used to them. Someone had already asked me wouldn’t she find the mascots scary (Lylah had cried at every Father Christmas she had seen so far in her life), but as she had quite a nice meet and greet with Peppa and George earlier in the year, I was pretty confident about this one. She cuddled those Minnie and Mickey heads all the time, threw them around, played with them, tried to put them on. This, I thought, was the best idea I’d had in a long time – the mascots were going to be a winner! I dragged my sister, a natural entertainer who loves the spotlight, in to perform as Minnie, and managed to persuade her husband to be Mickey! I told them it was their duty as Godparents to do things like this for Lylah.

The morning of the party, I stuck the heads and costumes in the car and took them to the hall. Lylah wasn’t amused by this, but we told her that she would see them at her party later, which kept her happy for while. So, a few hours later, the party is well under way, Lylah has had a good nap so isn’t to grumpy. All the kids are running around and playing like mad things, getting stuck into the food and having a great time.

We took to the mic to announce the arrival of two very special guests! My lovely assistants were behind a curtain, getting into their costumes, blinded by the misplaced eye holes, and off balance from the size of the heads. They made their grand entrance…Lylah was in my arms, I was proudly holding the birthday girl, excitedly anticipating her reaction. I looked at her face, exclaiming, “Look Lylah, it’s Minnie and Mickey”, eagerly awaiting her delighted expression, expecting her to struggle out of my arms in a race to run to them. But no. The grip to me got far tighter. Her face dropped and her lips quivered, and she let out a howl of upset and poured frightened tears. Her now bright purple face lit up with pure fear as Minnie and Mickey entertained the birthday crowd, and my heart sank. The next five minutes of trying to calm Lylah into at least looking in their direction didn’t work, so my husband and I resorted to taking her behind the curtain and explaining who the mascots in front of her actually were. My sister came back with us, head still in tact, which only frightened her more, as Lylah seemed convinced Minnie was going to come back behind the curtain and eat us all, and when she removed the head, Lylah’s screams grew even more hysterical, as if she couldn’t make out what weird decapitation had just occurred in front of her young and innocent eyes.

Meanwhile, the other birthday girl was loving every second, and gave Minnie and Mickey lots of hugs. Most of the other kids were fine, some tentative, some loving it, but none screaming like birthday girl Lylah! We gave up trying to convince her that these two monsters in front of her were actually the loveable Disney characters that she plays with every day, reads about, and watches on the TV.

Once my sister and her husband emerged as their true selves, Lylah calmed down and the party continued as it was before. She enjoyed some singing from her aunty, and loved the birthday cakes, as well as picking at the icing from the top when no one was looking.

We got home that night, and I brought in the Minnie and Mickey heads, diverting Lylah in an attempt to avoid upsetting her again. But no, she spotted them. This time however, instead of screaming the place down, she proceeded to play with and hug them. So, she likes the mascots in head only form, but not in full motion, human body like form.

The lesson learned from this? Don’t force your child to like something. Be prepared that anything will scare them. Avoid Minnie and Mickey mascots even though your toddler is obsessed with them on a normal daily basis. But always try to bring a smile to your children’s faces, even if you fail, and never stop trying to make their dreams come true.

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