Yesterday, I did not post. I got to the end of the day and really wanted to, but I fell asleep mid-post! I thought of you all, but like so many things in my current life, was unable to actually get around to doing it.
Yesterday was a beautiful, bright, shiny day. In the middle of trying to watch out for her card on CBeebies (it wasn’t shown! Four hours that took two grown adults on my 40th birthday to make that. That’s what you get for domestic goddessing!), cooking and eating lunch, getting 2 adults and one tiny person clean and into smart clothes to a Greek Orthodox Christening and then spending an hour stood outside because Monkey-face kept calling out “where’s daddy? There he is” etc and having opted for no children at my own wedding in order to avoid this sort of thing, only to invite thermonuclear war on my head by family members looking for half an excuse, it seemed a bit tad off to automatically become the parent who cocks a deaf ear to such shenanigans at other peoples’ bashes. So outside it was. Good job it wasn’t raining) Monkey-face turned 2.
I’m an incurable organiser. That I’m not very good at it because I lack sufficient focus to execute my magnificent visions is by the by. In my head, events are palatial. They also tend to be underresourced and overcooked. A good friend refers to herself as a “time optimist” which is a lovely way of defining that maddening quality of overcommitting and over-expecting what one is physically able to accomplish in a day in order to keep everybody happy and to produce a fantastically awesome time to show everyone how much you love them. Of course, what happens is that you (and everyone else) just ends up hurtling around like they are Challenge Anneka but with a bigger bum. In between getting to and from such events, enjoying a party and preparing for a business trip to Milan today (so frazzled am I, I spent the entire day yesterday talking about going to Germany. No love, today is Milan) Monkey-face got to play with her presents and we actually read together. Quality-time end-to-end book reading! Fancy that. I’d really fretted this morning that we’d done the wrong thing and her day would be flat, shoved into car seats, being made to be quiet in church, being made to wait on church steps, sitting in a seat at a reception and home again. Yet again fitting in wih parents’ will. All of the above was true, plus, we didnt get to go to the park in the sun (ran out of time before we had to leave), there were no new toys. So there was upset and gnashing of teeth and sharp words and that awful, dreadful mewing failing feeling. The general feeling of all out parental crapness because my child had had a mediocre birthday.
But ho. Upload the pictures and what do you see? A beaming, happy, laughing (possibly slightly over stimulated) 2 year old. A child who spent a considerable part of her day running around the flat, playing boo with any one of us. Bouncing. On anything she could. Laughing like a loon. Putting on any assortment of hats, taking them off, then putting them on you. Playing with her new stuff. Having an enormous fuss made of her (and a dress-up gift she really loves given to her by my friend who came by to see her). Drawing circles (they are kirkles no more) on her blackboard. Slipping on and off pews in the empty Greek Orthodox cathedral (We were early. HOW?) Colouring in. Staring open-mouthed for HOURS at the lights and bubbles and lasers at Angelina’s awesome reception. (We are eternally grateful that Laura threw Angelina’s bash on Monkey-face’s birhday. We could tell her it was all for her – we did! – and “all” we had to do was get ourselves there.) And Reading. We read The Blue Balloon by Mick Inkpen, a gift from Diana and Mel and then bashing her own blue ballooon backwards and forwards for an age. And at the Christening reception, we read Meg and Mog over and over and over again. Even the Baby was reaching out for Meg and Mog, with those acid bright colours that make you want to lick the page, or perhaps that’s just me. Monkey-face wouldnt share the book with baby Angelina, though. But when she is older and able to read, we’ll let her learn what a wonderful way that is to share.
When will I learn that time spent (or having a good time) does not involve any kind of planning? In fact, the planning, the agonising, the mania tends to sap the fun right out of my own day. I tend to miss the essence of what’s going on and have to have things pointed out to me I didnt see, for being too busy trying to organise things that people couldnt give a toss about. Fun doesnt happen by blowing a whistle and shouting “Right, the fun starts NOW. This is three hours in which we all have FUN. GO!!!!” That’s one approach, clearly.
My child had a fantastic birthday without any help or organising from me. Because kids make fun. They are all fun. Fun finds them. They dont need clipboards. They need someone who’ll agree to be divebombed. Some water. Something to scrawl on or with. Some balloons. That’s about it. If in the middle of this, some quiet (or in our case not-so-quiet) book-reading happens, I think you were probably onto a winner