The best laid (birthday) plans …

Sunday 6 February 2022

February arrives, bringing birthday season to our house, as within very quick succession, my eldest waves goodbye to her teenage years and Small-boy turns sixteen.

My first-born celebrates away at Uni-land, which just leaves me to plan something momentous for my son. The first treat is his other sister, Prom-dress daughter, who pops home for the weekend and certainly raises a smile. We re-unite with a Friday Chinese and a movie before Saturday dawns; she head out to meet pals for a ‘bottomless brunch’ and my son and I spruce up the house. .. because ‘the boys’ are coming round.

Now I learned a very important ‘teenage party lesson’ several years ago when my eldest turned 18! (Coming of Age). And I am happy to share it with all fellow parents,

‘Make sure you go out for the evening!’

So by 7pm, with 6 nice teenage boys happily gathered round an x-box, the table piled high with fizzy drinks and a take-away pizza menu pinned to the notice board, I grab my coat and drive into town to meet a friend for a quick bite.

‘Sorted!’ I foolishly dare to think.

For, just as I raise a first fork-full of lentil and mushroom ragout to my mouth, my mobile buzzes into life; Prom-dress daughter.

Arghh mum! Got an email to say my train to Edinburgh is cancelled tomorrow…I am so stressed. Can you pick me up?”

What.. right now?’ I ask. We compromise on a 10pm ride home and I get back to my pasta. I do actually make it through some truly, delicious desserts before the dreaded mobile flashes again. This time it is the party-boy.

Hi Mum. We’ve decided to play a bit of basketball… just letting you know so that you don’t run us over when you get back!”

‘An odd choice on a cold, wet and wild February night’ I muse, plus ‘How bad do they think my night driving is?’

But I manage to push these thoughts away and finish the rest my meal in peace. And how I cling on desperately to the memory of that civilised adult company as, having collected Prom-dress daughter, the two of us head home. And what a sight greets us…

About nine teenage boys are now on my property. Clad in sleeveless baseball tops, soaked to the skin and brandishing basketballs, they seem to fill the kitchen, with noise, laughter and limbs – it’s like a scene from a Village People confederation! What, in the name of goodness, the neighbours made of it all, I can only imagine. Behind me I hear my daughter desperately trying to suppress a giggle as the slightly sheepish troop now shuffle back into the lounge so that we can make it to the kettle.

Armed with trusty cuppas, we retreat upstairs to re-book a train journey back to Scottish Uni-land and the boys regain their swagger. The noise level rises again, so do the occasional crashes and cheers and … it actually sounds like a whole lot of fun. Some go around midnight and a few stay over but I am done and descend into a speedy slumber …

Sunday arrives and I awake to find teenage boys straightening-up my house with military zeal – who knew? Sleeping bags are tightly rolled, bedding folded and rubbish re-cycled. Someone even offers me a morning coffee. They can certainly come again! Prom-dress daughter and I bid them a brief and slightly bleary-eyed fare-well as we hit the road for …Wigan! Yes, I wave my middle child off from a bleak and windswept platform in the land of the pie-eaters.

By the time I make it home, all is quiet and, at least until next year, party season is over once more. But I’ll confess, after the dreary Lockdown years, I did enjoy seeing the house full of life and laughter again. February gatherings; they might not always go quite to plan, but may just be the perfect way to see off the gloom of January and get the new year started…

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