February is a tough month in our house, both the female offspring have birthdays, and both have long lists of demands. Some, a few of mates over for a party, were easier than others, Slinky the Dog from Toy Story, to grant. All in all they both ended up happy, and my wallet ended up lighter.
Dawn turned 16, a number guaranteed to send shivers down the spine of any Dad. My little girl has turned into a woman whilst my back was turned, the signs were all there, but I had obviously chosen to ignore them. She was always a bit of a tomboy, but now the smell of dead insects and mud that were ever present when you opened the door to her room, have been replaced by perfume and burnt straightened hair. There is so much opened nail polish in her room that I am surprised she is not stoned out of her nut on a permanent basis. I must admit to sneaking up there whenever the kids have driven me up the wall. Five minutes breathing those fumes and I emerge happier and slightly giggly every time.
As her 16th approached, I felt myself searching for a mid life crisis or three. I was starting to feel really old, standing on the abyss of father of the bride speeches and giving people and money away. I swear that in the two months leading up to her birthday my hair turned 8 shades greyer. It had gone from ER George Clooney to Oceans 15 George Clooney in mere weeks (please note I only said his hair, I don’t want to be sued for misrepresentation). When I bemoaned this fact to my Mum she helpfully pointed out that I wasn’t as grey as her yet, she knows how to find a silvery-grey lining in every cloud.
The party went without too many hitches, the next door neighbours had been bribed and apologised to in advance with a bottle of wine, so that was them dealt with. As parents it was our duty to hide upstairs and ignore any banging, crashing, or inappropriate loud music. What we actually did was hang out in the kitchen listening to our old 12″ record collections. The loud level increased with every bottle of wine (there was four), until the kids booted us upstairs at 2am, unable to hear their own music, or what they pass off as music.
In a huge leap of faith we allowed a mixed sleepover. They are a comparatively good group of kids, and I did include the morning after pill and a course of mercury in the party favours bag. Sod the consequences; at least I looked like a cool Dad for letting the party happen. I think they all acted in a trustworthy manner, but I won’t really find out for another 9 months.
Katy on the other hand is 5 going on 15, a child that is always on the feral/precocious see-saw. She absolutely loves watching what she calls ‘Piggy Come Dancing’, I’m not sure if the renaming is due to her growing sense of irony, or the fake tan colouration of the contestants. I watch with pride as she copies their dancing, a picture of cuteness. Pride turns to horror as she pushes her little brother out of the way and threatens to “rip off his head and poo down his throat” if he gets in her way again. Yep, you did read that right, it’s my fault really. I once jokingly threatened to pull off her arm and beat her around the head with it. All this did was prompt her into hysterical demands for more threats. Caught up in a ’she thinks I’m funny’ fever, my threats became more outlandish, including pulling off her head and replacing it with a football, and maybe the aforementioned poo one.
Anyway all blame aside, she is never going to be a middle of the road child, and I don’t see a quiet or ordinary time in my future. Her birthday requests included that it snow on her birthday, and that I make her a traffic light jelly. With a bit of timing and patience the jelly was doable and a roaring success. The snow however was a tad more difficult. How do you explain to a five year old that there are things you can’t do? You don’t, you lie and hope for the best. You also do a tribal snow dance for her in the days leading up to her birthday. A snow dance is fairly similar to a rain dance, just with jazz hands added at the end. Someone must have been looking down on me, probably the God of pure dumb luck, but lo and behold it snowed on her birthday as if on cue. My status of SuperDad had been cemented; even the eldest looked at me with a mix of suspicion and awe.
The cherry on the cake for her was when she saw the tent I had set up in her bedroom; she is desperate to go camping. A beer tent may not be the most appropriate thing in the world for a child, but I have come to the conclusion that nothing is quite appropriate in our house, and long may it stay that way.
The weirdest thing of it all is that whilst the thought of Dawn being 16 makes me feel old and Katy being 5 makes me feel young, the complete opposite is true when visiting their respective schools. Maybe it’s the fact that at Dawn’s school I am one of the youngest parents and at Katy’s I’m not? I had set out at the beginning for there to be a moral to this story, it’s just that I seemed to have lost it amongst the way. Maybe it’s that feeling old is just a question of who is looking at you? Or maybe it’s just as simple as enjoy your kids whilst they still let you. Either or, I have decided not to worry about it, well not for another year at least.