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  • jdettmann

This Is Your Birthday With Kids

Today it’s H’s and my seventh wedding anniversary. According to some website or other the appropriate gift for seven years of marriage is either made of copper (traditional list) or wool (modern list). I’ve been trying to find a good gift for H. You’d think wouldn’t be that hard since copper is currently very much In Fashion. For a year every catalogue and homewares website I’ve seen has had nothing but bloody copper: clocks, beds, kettles, prismatic vases and picture frames. But do you think I can find one solitary knitted copper jumper? I cannot. And I’ve left it too late to knit my own.

Maybe I’ll just leave it. Last year the suggested gifts were iron and sugar, and H is still a bit grumpy about the bits of toffee that remain stuck to our ironing board.

Today being our anniversary means that two days ago was my birthday. H pulled out all the stops to make it a truly wonderful day. Unfortunately, he was working against the combined forces of birthday ruination, our children, so all his good intentions were for naught.

Garnet kicked the day off by getting up at 5, so chuffed with himself for staying in his own bed all night, and came in with us. He lay there proudly kicking me and bragging about how good he is at sleeping until H hauled him downstairs at 6.30. Just before he left, he remembered it was my birthday. ‘Good birthday, Mummy,’ he said, and then his face crumpled into the portrait of abject misery we would come to know so well by the end of the day. ‘It will never be my birthday!’ he wailed.

Apparently the government are excising December 15 from the calendar from this year forward, so poor Garnet will never have another birthday. Or so he claimed about every fifteen minutes all day long. It’s astonishing how much of a downer that can be, someone you love bursting into tears of anguish every time anyone mentions it’s your birthday.

I tried reasoning with him, saying that it’s really important to celebrate other people’s birthdays, so they will enjoy celebrating yours. That cut no ice with Garnet. ‘Grown-ups’ birthdays are BOARWING,’ he told me, ‘because there aren’t enough treats for kids.’

He was actually correct. He is learning that birthdays are full of boring things your loved ones want to do, and because you love them you join in. For example later that day H came to the shops with me to do what he calls tilting at windmills and I call jeans shopping.

And it wasn’t even as if the day really was devoid of treats for the kids. They had a few hours playing at a mate’s house without anyone lecturing them repeatedly about ‘being nice to Mummy’ or using the words ‘atrocious behaviour’ or ‘no books tonight’ or ‘the Octonauts are going to live on top of the fridge indefinitely’. That’s a pretty good treat, if you ask me. They committed the rest of their day to training for the Bad Behaviour Olympics.  It was like a whingeing relay, where they took it in turns to be horrible, and each handing over of the baton of shitfullness was a little episode of squabbling.

They also got to have delicious cake. Somehow, in the middle of moving day, my brother and sister-in-law magicked up a chocolate cake seemingly out of thin air and sang Happy Birthday do me amid the packing boxes and dismantled couches at their new home. It’s almost as if they’ve known me for 37 years and have realised that I am essentially a three-year-old when it comes to my birthday. I can’t imagine where Garnet gets his obsession from.

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