It’s that time of year when I just feel there is too much in my head for one person. I’m a bit surprised that lists don’t start erupting from me as I scurry hither and thither. Of course, I’d have to have time to actually write them first …. But, simultaneously, I realise I’m not nearly as busy as I used to be. How did I ever manage this downward slide to Christmas (so sorry to mention the C word in October, please forgive me), with three major birthdays, attendant parties, the thing-beginning-with-C itself and the torrent of visitors who usually descend?
Nowadays, Child One is lackadaisical to the point of nonchalance about her looming 17th – 17th!!!! – birthday. Once, she started counting the days down to her next party the morning after her last. Now, I’m finding it hard to squeeze any present ideas out of her. ‘Oh, I don’t know,” she wafts. “Maybe an eyeliner?’
An eyeliner???? Her birthday lists used to run to several volumes and feature totals which make our present debt crisis look like a skipped bus fare. She says she feels old. And she’s got a lot of work to do, so she has no time to discuss presents. Does she, I wonder feebly, want a party? I’ve had to psyche myself up to ask this question. I know these days it would not be a case of ice cream and jelly, but would involve TL and me shipping out for the night and turning all sorts of blind eyes. I’m very relieved when she says no.
Yet still a part of me really misses the preparation for those little-girl parties. The all-important choice of venue – cinema, ball-park, circus, then the hand-drawing of the invitations, designing the menu and, most important, the solemn assembly of the party bags. This always involved the three of us sitting down with big piles of sweets, carefully ‘testing’ a few ‘just to make sure they’re not poisoned.’ Surprisingly, they never were. Happy days. Maybe Child Two is still young enough for a party this year.