Since he was in year 3, my younger son has been desperate to represent the school in the annual inter-schools athletics competition. But somehow he has always been overlooked. This surprises me, because he is a very fast runner. I know someone else who is a very fast runner too, someone who would DEFINITELY be picked for the team.
And so this year my son’s dream came true – he was picked for the team. And there was never any question that my daughter would be picked. Two kids representing the school in athletics – I was a very proud mummy.
But then the letter came home – the athletics competition was on my eldest’s 13th birthday. I was torn, conflicted. Because we place a lot of importance on birthdays in our house – they take priority over everything else. We don’t just shift the birthday to another day. I didn’t know what to do. I knew how desperately the kids wanted to do the athletics – and how proud I was at them being chosen. But I also didn’t want to spoil my son’s birthday. If I picked the athletics over the birthday what message would that be sending him? That I preferred his brother and sister to him, that I thought they were more important than him? I was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
My daughter was nagging me to get the letter signed and get it back in, but I just didn’t know what to do. In the end my husband said we should sign the letter and we’d work it out. My eldest didn’t seem too upset and we promised him he could have the family round for his birthday the next day. As he didn’t want to sit through two and a half hours of primary school athletics, my husband promised him he would take him out somewhere of his choice while I watched the athletics.
But then it rained on his birthday. Quite a lot. The forecast was for rain all day. The athletics competition was postponed! (Of course it stopped raining the second the decision had been taken.)
This gave us a whole new and challenging situation to deal with. Because I knew my eldest was going to lap up that time with
Daddy Dad and there was no way he’d let the other two go along. I also knew my daughter would take this really badly. I was right. As soon as she heard what was happening, she dissolved into tears. She couldn’t see that she was potentially ruining her brother’s birthday with the athletics, so now he wasn’t willing to change his plans because hers had changed. All she could see was that it was unfair. Her brother was going out, she was stuck at home.
Luckily my sister and toddler niece arrived in the middle of this and my offered to have the kids round for tea, so they would still be getting a treat even if they weren’t going to a restaurant.
Crisis averted again.
My husband suggested that, as the kids were having tea with my sister, maybe I could go out with him and my eldest. I thought I’d better ask my daughter’s opinion. She said ‘no’.
So I sat at my sister’s house watching my kids eat their meatballs – and my niece smear it all over her face. Then my daughter said: ‘I thought you were going out with Daddy’.
‘But you said I couldn’t go.’
‘Well you can now.’
So I went. I got to spend some quality time with my eldest. By coincidence we went to the restaurant we used to go to when he was a baby. He used to sit under the table in his car seat and later at the table eating bread in a high chair. It was nice to go back to a place, just the three of us, that we’d been to when there was just three of us.
After the stress of organising and un-organising and trying to keep everyone happy, it was good to just take the time to relax and celebrate my son’s milestone birthday in peace.