Party Loot Blog

Today marks the third-anniversary of when my wife and I bade a fond farewell to any chance of getting a decent night’s sleep ever again. Or, to put it another way, it’s Isaac’s third birthday.

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Yes, shortly after 4:30pm, exactly three years ago to the day, this nocturnal miscreant graced us with his shriveled presence, amid screams from my good lady wife, and the dulcet tones of Noel Edmonds in the background (Deal or No Deal was on the television, just in case you thought the bearded weirdo had crept into Leighton Hospital, to provide running commentaries on childbirth: “We know what we don’t want to see, but let’s find out, after a break…”).

To say Isaac has been hard work ever since, would be something of an understatement; but he can also be utterly adorable, and with a flick of his Donald Trump hair, and a flash of that cheeky grin, he can usually get away with most things. We wouldn’t change him for the world (probably).

Then, on Monday, Ollie turns seven. In his own unique way, Ollie can sometimes be an insufferable little shit too, but we also love him dearly – and equally. Well, I say ‘equally’, but of course you never love your children equally, because you always have a favourite at any given time (https://middlerageddad.com/2015/05/01/fighting-like-cats-and-blogs/),. Still, you get the idea.

Having two children so close together (in terms of birthdays, not their ages), can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, we get to celebrate their birthdays at the same time. However, on the flip side of that, we have to celebrate their birthdays at the same fucking time.

Ok, it’s nice that they both have their birthdays in May – which is frankly a far better month to celebrate your birthday than either mine (February) or my wife’s (November) – but it can be a monumental nightmare to hide, and afford, two piles of presents at the same time. That challenge, however, is nothing compared with the task of simultaneously coordinating two children’s birthday parties.

On the one hand, you could argue that a joint birthday party would be the ideal solution, and would get the whole torrid affair over with in one afternoon, but the boys were born four years apart, and want very different things from their parties – even though, this year, both events will take place at the same venue, and will be catered for by the same person (my wife).

Isaac’s party took place last weekend, while Ollie’s is next weekend. I know what you’re thinking and, yes, it is rather strange to not have either of their parties on the actual weekend of their birthdays, but that is for one very good reason: Ollie initially insisted that he should take precedence as the older child, and have his party this weekend, while Isaac would have to move his party to another time (because Mummy and Daddy had said there was no fucking way they were hosting both in the same weekend).

So, having booked Isaac’s party for the weekend before his birthday (because, frankly, so long as he got a party, it could have been in January for all he cared), Ollie then realised – as did Daddy – that tomorrow is the National League North Play-Off Final, and just in case Stockport County achieved the unthinkable and actually reached the final (which, inevitably, they did not), Ollie and Daddy would be otherwise engaged – and Daddy would be far too hungover on Sunday to face his own children, let alone other people’s.

As a result, Ollie’s party was immediately postponed to the Sunday after his birthday, and we now face the rather unusual situation of having their actual birthday weekend without either party taking place (and no football to go to). Frankly, this weekend is turning out to be quite the disappointment – although I do still have Eurovision to get drunk to, and ridicule, tomorrow night.

Isaac’s party last weekend, involved fourteen toddlers (and a few older siblings) running around and screaming for an hour, whilst falling off various pieces of play equipment – including a giant bouncy castle – at our local leisure centre in Sandbach. This was followed by an hour of party food and games, throughout which Isaac had a wonderful time socialising with his friends:

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My wife, party planner extraordinaire, was in charge of most of the arrangements (booking the venue, invites, balloons, food and drink, cake, party bags….), whereas my only jobs were to prepare a playlist of party music (that the children could listen to whilst eating, then dance to afterwards), and to not behave like a total dick at the party itself. Both of these, inevitably, were a struggle.

First of all, whilst I like to think of my music collection as varied (even, dare I say it, eclectic? – although anyone who claims their music tastes are ‘eclectic’, is generally a tit), apparently many of the two-thousand songs on my iPod are not suitable for toddlers.

Well, at least according to my wife, who dismissed the first three play-lists that I came up with: Celtic guitar-based folk; Soft rock ballads; and Popular film and television themes of the 1980’s. I tried to suggest that children of all ages will appreciate Roxette, and if they haven’t seen a single episode of Airwolf, then their parents are doing an appalling job of raising them; however, yet again, my opinion was dismissed. Thank goodness I went thought that weird Little Mix and Taylor Swift phase a while back (which, in all honesty, is ongoing), otherwise the whole shebang would have been utterly kiboshed.

Having been a father for almost exactly seven years, I like to now consider myself relatively comfortable when surrounded by groups of young children (I implore you to not read too much into that sentence), so long as they follow my three golden rules:

  1. Don’t wipe food, vomit, or faeces on me;
  2. Don’t shriek directly into my ear from close range;
  3. Don’t call me anything derogatory, like ‘poopyhead’.

Sadly, that’s pretty much all young children want to do at birthday parties (with the possible exception of the shit-smearing), so it was inevitable that I was going to have a pretty miserable time of it. Of course, if any of the parents who were actually at the party happen to read this, none of what I just wrote is directed towards your child – who, I have to say, was an absolute delight.

I’m joking, obviously.  Not only was the party a relative success, but the only child to step out of line at any point was our own – although he stepped out of line at pretty much every possible opportunity. From the time his first guest arrived, he more or less refused to interact with anyone (only pausing to briefly acknowledge their existence if they brought him a present); spent no more than thirty seconds on the massive bouncy castle we’d paid for; and sulked when everyone had the audacity to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him.  I mean, the sheer nerve of some children.

Actually, the only time he perked up, was when Daddy’s music came on. #win

Fortunately, Ollie’s party next weekend is likely to be less mentally and physically draining. He naturally wants a football party – because that’s all he talks about these days – followed by lots of food and games. Essentially, he wants what I want from a birthday party (except for the alcohol, topless waitresses, and a nap afterwards), but am not allowed, because society dictates that I must act my age.

Why? Why can’t a man of nearly forty have a kick around with his mates, play ‘tag’, then eat his own body-weight in cocktail sausages and cake? Why can’t my friends bring me Star Wars toys, and sing to me? It’s just not fair.

The answer, of course, is that men can have all those things, but we have to refer to them as ‘stag parties’, and rather than have them once a year, we usually only get to have them once, and end up married shortly afterwards.

And no party is worth that.

(just kidding, dear)

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Happy Blogday To Me

On Monday, I turned 36.

This, as you may imagine, was pretty depressing. Sure, those of you whose last birthday began with a ‘4’ or higher might wonder what I’m grumbling about, and no doubt long to go back to their thirties, but for some reason this particular milestone has hit me like a truck (which would at least explain why my body suddenly hurts all over). It’s odd, because 36 isn’t generally considered to be a ‘milestone’ age, but Monday really felt like a turning point. And not a good one.

If you have read this blog for a while, you will know by now that I am a happy-go-lucky kind of chap, who doesn’t let life’s little hurdles get him down, and who greets each new day with a smile and…. ok, I really can’t keep that up (better get used to saying that as I get older).

Fine, I’ll admit that I’m grumpy most of the time, and I whinge about a lot of things, but that’s only because I seem to encounter more than my fair share of dickheads on a daily basis, and the universe frequently transpires against me.

And, if there is one thing guaranteed to place a naturally grumpy individual into an even fouler mood, getting older will usually do it. Ok, no one over the age of 21 likes getting any older (at least up until that point, birthdays can be fun), but once we hit 22, annual ageing is met with utter disgust and anger.

But turning 36 was especially rubbish. Aside from the fact it only seems like yesterday that I had my last birthday (when, by all accounts, it was probably around twelve months ago), there were a number of reasons why turning 36 was utterly shit. In fact, I reckon I could come up with 36 reasons:

  1. I am now nearer 40 than 30. Ok, that might be stating the bleeding obvious, but it’s an important point. I can try and argue that I am still in my ‘mid-thirties’, but the truth is I will be turning 40 in the blink of an increasingly deteriorating eye, while my 30th birthday fades into my diminishing memory.
  2. I will never be a professional footballer. It is a well-known fact that, apart from some goalkeepers who play into their forties, most footballers retire at around this age, so I now have to accept that it is beyond me. The fact that I’m crap at football is entirely beside the point.
  3. I have now turned 18 twice. I remember my 18th birthday well, and it’s weird to think I have lived through that many years all over again. Was it really half my lifetime ago, that I went to university and met the girl who would one day become my wife?
  4. Princess Diana, Bob Marley and Marilyn Monroe all died at 36. Now, I don’t want to be unnecessarily morbid, and I am certainly not drawing comparisons, but look at what they achieved in their brief lifetimes, compared to mine so far. I’m not saying I want to marry a prince, perform reggae, or stand over a grid in a flowing white dress (ok, maybe that last one might be fun), but I feel that I need to do something.
  5. I don’t wish to dwell on death (rule #1 of successful blogging), but having done some research, it turns out the average life expectancy in the 1700s was just 36 years old. So, if I had lived in the 18th Century, I’d be on borrowed time.
  6. I went to a few concerts last year, and enjoyed them all, but I have reached an age where sitting down at a gig is particularly appealing. When I am forced to stand, I find myself looking at my watch and planning the journey home, often before the band have reached their encore.
  7. While we’re on the subject of music, I think it’s time to finally accept that I can no longer listen to the charts. The other day, Radio 1 played ‘Justin Bieber featuring Skrillex and Diplo’, and I assumed they were toys he got for Christmas.
  8. I have been a solicitor for twelve years. It should be apparent by now, I am not totally in love with my job, and the fact that one-third of my existence has been spent working in the world of personal injury law, is frankly upsetting. As it happens, I have also been married for the same length of time, but in contrast those twelve years have been like a wonderful dream (she’ll read this).
  9. The average man (which, I have convinced myself, is a category I just about fall into), undergoes average hair growth of six inches a year. Adopting that statistic, if I had never had my hair cut to date, my hair would be roughly three times as long as the rest of me (I’m 6’3”). How cool (if slightly inconvenient) would that be?
  10. I have just worked out that I have spent around £1,500 on haircuts during my lifetime. So, not only would I now have awesome hair if I had never had it cut, I’d have saved a shit load of money in the process (although, in all probability, I’d have spent more on shampoo, so it’s swings and roundabouts I guess).
  11. My memory is starting to go. Honestly, I can’t even remember basic things anymore.
  12. I have now reached an age where I find myself paying attention to headlines like ‘Eating red meat will give you cancer’. I still eat red meat, obviously, but I now do so with a slight twinge of apprehension. And chronic indigestion.
  13. I finally ‘get’ Radio 2. I’ve tried listening to it a few times in recent years, but I have always found the chat to be boring, and the music to be too easy-listening for even my mellowing tastes. However, I decided to give the station one more chance this week, and it suddenly made sense. I enjoyed it so much, I got all the way to work without changing the station.
  14. I have to wee at disturbingly frequent intervals. Honestly, if I now have a cup of tea or pint of beer (the worst offenders), my need to go to the toilet will reach a critical level at some point in the next half an hour.
  15. I took my GCSEs twenty years ago, and I have forgotten almost all of what I learned. For example, I studied German for five years (between the ages of 11 and 16), but unless I happen to now find myself lost in Deutschland and in desperate need of the nearest Town Hall, I’m properly screwed.
  16. I’ve realised that I really should get a will sorted.
  17. And health insurance.
  18. The thought of going clubbing (dancing, rather than seals) now fills me with dread. On a night out – which, with two young children, happens so rarely nowadays – if the music is too loud, or I am unable to sit down for more than half an hour, my evening is ruined.
  19. Speaking of going out, with each passing year my hangovers seem to get worse. The days of mixing my drinks on a night out, yet recovering by the following lunchtime, are long gone. Now, if I so much as sniff something that isn’t beer or wine, I end up requiring medical attention.
  20. If I had become a parent at the age of 18 (which some of the students in our year did), my kid(s) would be turning 18 themselves this year. Worse, if they had then become parents at 18 too, I could now feasibly be a grandparent.
  21. My memory is starting to go.
  22. Ollie keeps (subtly) reminding me how old I am.20160130_123837
  23. Napping is now, without a doubt, my favourite hobby. It’s not just that I enjoy it – I need it. If I suddenly find myself with an hour or so to spare, my first thought is nap time. I can even nap late into the evening, wake up feeling refreshed, and then have a quick brew before going to bed (subject, of course, to pissing like a racehorse within the next half hour).
  24. Every single part of my body now aches, or clicks, or both.
  25. I’ve noticed that I have started doing random and unexplainable things, like opening the fridge to take the milk out, but putting the kettle in by mistake.
  26. It has been six years since my 30th birthday party, which was when I first noticed my rapidly expanding belly. That means I have had six years to get into shape, and I have done the grand total of fuck all about it.
  27. Erm… what else? Crap, I’m now so old, coming up with a list of reasons long enough to match my age is damn near impossible. I’m not even at 30 yet. I haven’t thought this through properly. Have I mentioned that my memory is starting to go?
  28. Ok, how about this: I’ve started to make deep groaning sounds like a pensioner when I get up from the sofa.
  29. Stairs are now a problem too. We live in a three storey townhouse, and in the past I could run from the bottom floor to the top, without any major health issues. Nowadays, I can’t even do one flight of stairs without sounding like Darth Vader. If I want to go from the bottom of the house to the top, I have to set up camp for a few hours on the middle floor like a fucking Sherpa.
  30. Oh, and I turned 36 on a Monday. I hate getting older anyway, but it happened on the worst day of the week. Any of the other six would have been preferable.
  31. Right, I’m struggling here, so I’ve turned to trusty old Google for help. Did you know, 36 is the atomic number of Krypton? No, me neither. Now, I’ve never come into contact with it, but I’ve seen what Kryptonite did to Superman, so that can’t be good.
  32. This is interesting (and, by that, I mean ‘completely irrelevant’) – other than the number 1, 36 is the only ‘square triangular’ age that I will ever be. Apparently, a ‘square triangular number’ is both triangular and also a perfect square. Now, I’m not 107% sure what this means (presumably because I cannot remember any of my GCSE Maths), but I do know that the next square triangular number after 36 is 1,225, and I’m sure as hell not going to live to that.
  33. I’m admittedly dragging the barrel now, but here’s some more maths trivia for you: 36 is also a ‘13-gonal’ number, apparently. There are many things I don’t want near my gonads (sharp instruments, fast moving or heavy objects, Kerry Catona….), but we can now add ‘unlucky numbers in mathematics I don’t understand’ to the list.
  34. The number 36 apparently has special significance in Jewish tradition. Maybe if I was Jewish, I would appreciate this age a bit more, but I’m not. Damn my non-Jewish heritage.
  35. This will be the only year when Ollie’s age is the square-root of my own. I don’t think that will cause us to cherish this year necessarily, but it’s still sad to think it will never happen again.
  36. Despite common sense dictating that my next birthday is a shade under twelve months away, I will undoubtedly turn 37 in a matter of weeks. And that strikes me as an even worse age than 36. It’s not even a 13-gonal number for fuck’s sake. Plus, there’s no way in hell I’ll be able to do a list of 37 reasons to be grumpy next year.

Still, I guess that means we at least ended on a positive note.

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