IT’S soon to be my youngest’s birthday and today he spoke those four little words that I’ve been dreading since the day he was born.

Those four little words that have me looking for the nearest wall to bash my head against. Yep, he said “I want a party”.

Unfortunately, he didn’t stop there. He started to reel off all the kids he wanted to invite, what food there should be, what the cake should look like and, most scarily, that there should be a funny clown.

At this rate, it’s going to cost me the six months of child benefit that has already been set aside for his future therapy.

Nowadays children’s parties have become extravagant affairs. Only the other day I attended a first birthday spectacular with dodgems, three magic men and a puppet show. The cake alone must have cost a few hundred quid and there was even a professional photographer.

Although we had an okay time, you can damn well bet that the parents were exhausted, skint and wishing that half the people invited had come down with flu that day.

The birthday boy spent the entire party asleep upstairs and most of the other kids in attendance were either sick from too much candy floss or crying because they weren’t allowed any. And all for the sake of the pictures in the child’s photo album.

But I’m not worried about that. Because my youngest is my third child and he’ll be lucky to find any photos of him at all – he’s no chance of an entire album.

Nowadays it’s just not acceptable to admit that you hate kid’s birthday parties. It’s a bit like saying that you hate crafts because they both mean that you’re ruining your children’s lives forever.

Call me The Grinch Who Stole Childhood but I defy you to find me a mother who a) enjoys being in charge of 30+ kids going wild or a) enjoys attending birthday parties where she has to make small talk with other mothers for two hours. Unless there’s a bar. But unfortunately somebody has deemed it inappropriate to serve up Vodka jelly.

The most popular venue these days seems to be soft play areas because, as a parent, you don’t have to do anything except hand over �200 cash and expose the children to The Root Of All Germs.

It’s basically a big cage where the kids go berserk for an hour then are expected to calm down and sit their sweaty bodies at a table to scramble for chicken nuggets.

So many parents opt for this because the alternatives are even worse. You can choose to hire a hall where you have to invite 50 kids just so it looks like a party or have a load of children ransack your home. And you can guarantee that most parents will seize the opportunity to leg it for a few smug child-free hours.

The food never ever gets eaten except crisps. (In fact a buffet of just crisps should be mandatory.) The cake usually tastes disgusting.

And you will run out of party bags – but what the hell, that plastic stuff only gets chucked away anyway and probably recycled by the bin men at their kids’ birthday parties. Someone will cry and it’ll probably be you.

I really don’t know if the child themselves actually gets any pleasure from the party experience. The build-up is horrendous – we’re already on “It’s in thirty two more sleeps” and I’m sure by the time we get to “twenty more sleeps” my toddler will have spontaneously combusted.

He will probably need a sleep by the time the party is set to start – having had four weeks of nightmares about getting no presents – so he will be revolting. Plus the 16 little friends that nursery have assured me he plays with will totally get ignored in favour of his sister who he usually spends most of his time fighting with.

The funny clown will make him cry and we’ll run out of full-of-crap party bags so he doesn’t get one. He’s not used to having toys and also, he hates cake.

Perhaps I’ll do myself a favour and spend the money on a bar at the local playground. It’ll certainly impress the parents. At least I’ll have a good time. And, after all, my toddler’s not going to remember his party so I might as well not either.