Mackindergarten: Scared the living daylights out of me

I’ve hosted many events in my time. From big spaces to intimate venues, I’ve MC’d major corporate events, stand-up clubs, cabaret nights, festivals, countless weddings, new act competitions and a great many quizzes.

Tough crowd
I’ve handled rowdy drunk punters, battled indifferent audiences and roused empty rooms, but this month I hosted the most intimidating and terrifying gig of my career: the cake auction at my son’s nursery summer party.

We were fortunate to get the Tiny Dictator into a small vuggestue in the heart of the city. To do this we held out until he was a little bit older than average to begin nursery, but it was worth it. With fewer kids per teacher, and smaller groups overall, resources go further and they get more attention and care. It’s a relatively quiet place and surprisingly calm.

But that humid Friday afternoon, the place was rammed.

Party of the damned
A nursery summer party is a curious spectacle to be a part of. If you were having a party, chances are your list of invitees wouldn’t include people you didn’t know and the under-fives – parents with nothing in common except a basic need for childcare awkwardly shuffled around the playground trying to make small talk.

All around, various fun activities were being run by volunteers who now clearly regretted volunteering. At one end, a lethal bout of dodgeball threatened to decapitate the slower children; in one corner, two toddlers came to angry blows over who deserved victory in the paddling pool fish pond; and in another, over-exuberant face-painters were transforming kids into extras from ‘Dawn of the Dead’.

Hopped up on fruit juice and sweets, they all ran amok like a swarm of massive wasps, while mums sipped wine in plastic cups and dads pretended their lukewarm Tuborg actually tasted nice. Which, of course, it doesn’t.

Cake, the money and run
Round about 5pm it was my turn to shine. And by ‘shine’, I mean haul myself up onto the climbing frame with the grace of a tranquilised panda, then scream currency at a group of bewildered Danes … in English.

The money was being raised to upgrade the playground and, because I quite like being the centre of attention, I was genuinely happy to help. But the fact I was not doing so in Danish made me nervous.

You’d think three years in that I would have mastered the language, but no. They had told me beforehand it was fine that I host the auction in my native tongue, but I still felt guilty. I will go back to lessons, I swear. Just as soon as life stops getting in the way.

He was not amused
Anyway. Half an hour later it was over. And it went well. Some parents clearly loved the idea of a bidding war over homemade treats, and enough were game to make it a fun little endeavour. By the end we’d raised a healthy sum and everyone was happy – except my son who was confused as to why all these people were in HIS playground.

After a few chats with some of the parents, I left feeling more a part of a community, which is always good if you’re an expat.
I was told they’d happily invite me back next year.

Maybe I’ll do it in Danish. Maybe.