The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

Whose Birthday is it anyway?

on June 7, 2014

Yesterday was Husband’s birthday. Though you wouldn’t have thought as much with the occasion hijacked by #1, 2 and 3.

Unlike the Birthdays of #1, 2 and 3 and everyone else, there can be very little lead time in planning and preparing for Husband’s Birthday. It has to be left until the very last week because children, as you most likely know, are not very good at the whole patience thing or ‘It’s supposed to be a secret’ thing.

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So I thought #1 and 2 are of that age where they may like to take some responsibility for the gifts they choose for others. #1 was sure that Daddy would like a tin of chocolate chip cookies. Really? Now is that for you or for Daddy? #2 said Daddy would like a blue spotted tie and a brown t shirt. Last year she got him a purple spotted tie. There’s a bit of a theme going on there.

Anyway, in this great age of democracy, I sort of steered them towards slightly different choices. How about a CD for Daddy, #1? You know how he likes to listen to loud, thumpy music reminiscent of his mid twenties. Ok then. And #2, Daddy has a lot of t shirts and ties, how about we get him a jacket instead? What’s a jacket? says she. Indeed, you can tell a child who has been brought up in the tropics. So that were the gifts all decided. #3 was to give Daddy a book on animals that #1 fancied for himself.

Shall we make cards for Daddy’s Birthday kids? The handmade gift is always better received than anything shop bought. (Can I really live by this rule? I’ve seen some pretty cool stuff now on an imaginary wish list when I was out window shopping with Lil Sis last weekend) As I’ve mentioned before, Arts and Crafts activities with my three hasn’t progressed beyond five minutes of chaos yet but I have to say there have been some small steps of improvements lately. It starts off well, drawing identifiable objects, colouring neatly within the lines until one gets bored and decides to demonstrate a bit of gothic artistic flair and decides covering over everything they’ve done thus far in black crayon and a desire to colour in every patch of white card available. It’s surprise to be a happy, sunshiney Birthday card! Ah well. Husband is impressed all the same.

#1 insists on Husband having Birthday Breakfast in bed and then he takes charge of handing out their gifts for him. He pushes the presents in a shopping trolley into the bedroom with a flourish and looks at the tags and combines a bit of guesswork in with it too. #2 this feels like the jacket you got Daddy, #3 here’s your book and Daddy this is my CD. Surprise! No sooner have the presents been handed over then they’re making requests to have them back and to open them themselves. So what always gets me is that knowing full well what’s inside the wrapping, they still like to declare with some element of surprise, ‘Oh look Daddy….it’s a CD/jacket/book!’

For all the family, we’ve been doing Birthday outings to mark the occasion as a way of making the day extra memorable and to get round to doing some of the fabulous tourist attractions there are in Singapore. We’ve so far been on an open top bus tour, Singapore Flyer twice, Mount Faber cable cars twice.

Universal Studios Singapore, sits just 20 minutes away from our front door on Sentosa Island. Husband has been wanting to go for some time but it makes sense that we waited until some of the children were at least tall enough to go on some rides. #1 is not the most daring of children (refer to cautious genes inherited from my Dad, Mr Li) and expressed a great degree of wariness at the idea. So we brought along his best friend from school Master Lucky (son of Mrs Cake Pops), for courage. Well, it’s goes without saying that similar personalities attract likewise. Not only were we convincing one small child this ride is FUN and not scary at all, we had two.

The first ride we went on was fine, the King Julien’s Beach Party-Go-Round, quite a sedate affair. The second one, Shrek 4D Adventure, was a little bit different. It’s set inside the lovely big castle where they all expected Princesses to emerge from but instead they find the Three Little Pigs padlocked in boxes of straw, sticks and bricks and suspended in air alongside Pinocchio unceremoniously dumped upside down with his legs waving in the air. The narration in the anteroom before the ride is carried out by a white talking mask and the 4D animation involves the ‘ghost’ of Lord Farquhar intent on bringing Princess Fiona to her doom to join him. Can you picture the scene I’m setting? We’re sat in our seemingly comfy theatre seats when suddenly I’m being lunged forwards and backwards for the 4D experience of careering along a rocky pathway on Donkey and then suddenly this massive spider looms in front of our faces. At this point the two boys are screaming and curling up into the foetal position in their chairs.

I’m not sure they’ll ever look at castles in the same way again.

So after traumatising them for life, it was a joy to see them relish the experience of meeting a real life baby Triceratops. You can see in their faces the awe of such an encounter and that’s all down to the Dinosaur trainer who obviously took great care of the baby dinosaurs at the Studios.

Like the time we went to Legoland Malaysia, it seems a shame not to go on one of the For Grown Ups only rides so Husband and I went on the Revenge of the Mummy, an indoor rollercoaster in the dark sort of ride with lots of evil laughter and scary things popping up suddenly on all sides. I KNOW it’s all pretend. I really do. So why do I spend the whole time screaming and screwing my eyes tight shut. I didn’t even know there was the obligatory photo opportunity going on and when we went to view it, all the other 14 Grown Ups were posing happily with their thumbs up and Hong Kong fingers and I’m ducked to one side looking like I’m going to pee myself.

As Master Lucky says, #3 was the bravest of us all on all the rides we went on and she’s only 20 months old.

No Birthday is complete without Birthday Cake and a Birthday sing song in both English and Mandarin. Master Lucky was certainly not going home without cake after putting up with us all day long.

Here is another area that I feel Husband never gets the best of anymore. The Birthday cake. There’s always a cake. Haphazardly put together and usually decorated by #1, 2 and 3. None of this agonising over the theme, getting the exact colours right and messing around with fondant for days beforehand. But there’s always a cake. With candles that get blown out by everyone else.

So that’s how Husband celebrated his birthday this year.

How different to the years gone by when it was just us two. When you could book a weekend away to the Cotswolds or Rome. Take the Eurostar to Paris for the day (when there’s a crucial England game going on whilst you’re travelling! I forgot!) When you can sit in a pub and get hammered with your friends which was the most usual way to celebrate a birthday. Those were the days when it was just us two. So whilst we had had a full day out, it was good to go out for dinner, just us two. When we got home I’d saved Husband a couple of presents he could actually open himself.

I’m all for celebrating Birthdays. It’s a day to celebrate a special day. The day you arrived into the world and not to celebrate that would be a shame. It’s great to get birthday cards and presents but what’s even better is when lots of people get to have a good time too. I had a great time and I enjoyed it all the more because #1, 2, 3 and Master Lucky were all part of it too.

Happy Birthday Husband! He tells me that turning 41 is far less traumatic than turning 40 had been. So I’m looking forward to next year’s birthday already.

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