I wouldn’t mind some tulips, actually

The thing you never realise as a child, busy having fun on your birthday, is what hard work it is being a parent. First there is the day (or it could be night) when you meet, a point when the mother has generally worked quite hard for some time. When she gets home with her baby she tends to think that that’s the worst of it over.

But soon she discovers that whereas she would enjoy some praise for having produced such a fantastic baby and child, and perhaps be given flowers and chocolates on his/her birthday, it’s actually expected that she prepares a party for any number of little, or not so little, ‘hooligans’ on the same day every year. And so it goes on for almost two decades. Presents. Food. Cleaning. (At first I cleaned the house before the party. I soon learned that afterwards is enough, removing bits of chocolate trodden into carpets and stuff. And I’m not even going to mention the Whistle child who sprayed all our books with Ribena.)

But whereas I read on facebook about people’s children’s 18th parties that go a little overboard, we never had those. (Maybe they are still to come?) Son, who today is a bit older than 16, celebrated his 16th some years ago. It’s a party that still baffles me.

It was the first time I seriously thought the guests would be ‘grown-up’ and demand drugs and entertainment.

What I got was the same group of overgrown boys, dragging the same mud through the house they always did, playing tag in the garden. (Remember it’s the middle of January. It’s cold. It’s dark. Often wet.) I used to worry what the neighbours would think when hearing the adolescent screams. They might have been mere calves, but they sounded like fully grown bulls.

Pizza was eaten. I suspect some guests moved on to non-alcoholic beer, whilst Coke was still more popular.

And then they gathered round the piano and played Pachelbel’s Canon. And own composed requiems. (I blame GCSE music…)

Not sure if that was the year when the best behaved boy (and I really mean that) called me a witch. He had no idea how right he was. Just mortified when he realised what he had implied.

This year there is no party to prepare for. And still no reward for me. Unless I count the peace and quiet.

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