“Thanks Ma. Right, that’s enough celebration now. That’s it all done.”
“No, it’s me. I feel bad every year because I know my family wants to do something for my birthday, but I prefer not to. And every year I say this, and every year we end up doing something, going out to eat, cards, cake... and I go along with it because you all want to do it. But today all I want to do is go climbing. I don’t want any knick-knacks.”
“Knick-knacks! I’m giving you money, as requested, and very small practical things,” (liquid chalk for climbing, a notebook to record travel adventures and drawings en route, and a sweat-wicking T-shirt for climbing. And that’s from all of us because Eldest and Youngest are useless – it’s hardly a car or a holiday of a lifetime to meet orangutans or suchlike. And it’s all already nestling beautifully-wrapped-by-Youngest on the mantelpiece under the massive banner that says “Happy Birthday!!!” – that’ll have to come down.)
“OK. Sorry. Money’s perfect. Thanks Ma.”
“Of course you should spend the day how you want,” I tell him. “It’s your day. Go climbing, don’t celebrate, don’t gather round the kitchen table and eat cake while we sing Happy Birthday at you, in fact we won’t sing Happy Birthday – you hate it. I’m sorry, it’s just on your birthdays I always remember pushing you out and being very pleased we all survived and happy that we’re all still here, and proud of you all and...”
“Er thanks... Maybe we can eat cake when I get back from climbing – if it’s not too late,” he says.
“Great. Have a good... day.” (The ‘birth’ is silent, in my head).
“You too. Laters. Love you.”
So, should we go along with his birthday wishes and not celebrate just because he’s in his twenties and doesn’t like the fuss? As if.
Just wait till he gets back tonight and sees his Colin the Caterpillar cake.