I was walking across a park with one of my oldest friends. His three children aged between ten and two were ranging happily around us with my two.
“The thing is,” Mukh started, “by the time they get to this age” he indicated his eldest “you’re whole life is taken over by theirs.”
I listened intently aware that I was about to pick up some snippet of dad wisdom from one a few years further down the path than me.
“Take parties, “he continued, “When they go to primary school they’re in a class of thirty. Because one parent decided it was a good idea to have a birthday party, they all think it’s required and the kids come to expect it.
Think about it, thirty kids, that’s thirty birthdays, thirty presents, thirty Saturdays each year taken up. I’ve got three of them. I never get to do anything on a Saturday for bloody birthday parties.”
I could feel his pain. Just that morning little Meri who is nearly four had picked up yet another invite to a birthday party for a girl in her class turning four in a few weeks’ time. At the same time my wife and I were having a disagreement about whether we should hold a birthday party for Arun and Meri who are separated by two years and thirteen days. My wife, who had had birthday parties as a child was all for the idea – “it’s just some balloons, some food, the hire of a hall and a bouncy castle”.
I for my part was dead set against the idea – “I don’t want to create the expectation that they’re going to get a big party every year – they can have one next year when they’re five and seven.”
The argument rumbles on with the barbs getting progressively harsher – “you’re being scrooge-like” versus “you’re going to spoil them.” I suspect that if I can drag it on long enough we’ll just run out of time to organise anything.
Anyway, we came back from our walk only to find a green envelope on our doormat. I opened it, the dread rising in my stomach.
“Meri is invited to Max’s pirate party next week,” I read out loud, “It’s happening, like a tsunami, it’s coming and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
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