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I suppose the obvious topic of the week would be to discuss Nick Clegg’s announcement that by law new dads are going to be allowed to share maternity leave with their partners and have the opportunity to spend more time at home with their children. There were only two words that sprung to mind when I heard the news: ‘about time!’
In a nutshell, it will be such a positive thing for society to allow more men to do what I have done for the last four years, even if it is just for a few weeks. It opens your eyes to just how difficult it is looking after a new baby, it is also fairer on women as it gives them more choice. Sharing the responsibility in this way, I believe, only serves to make a marriage/partnership stronger, at a time of life when it is important for it to be strong in the face of all the hurdles and problems that parenthood brings.
Now apologies for not expanding on the subject further but I am sure it is nothing that someone hasn’t said before (much like Nick Clegg’s speech) and besides I have party politics of a more pressing nature taking over my headspace.
In our house, it is birthday time…
Having the two kids’ birthdays within a week of one another (Jem was four on Sunday, Carys turns six this Saturday) is the envy of many because you can have a joint party. Well that might be all well and good in the spring or summer but in the middle of January, just after Christmas, it isn’t the best time of year for the old wallet.
And, oh how quickly these things escalate out of control.
We sorted the venue last month and since then the party has taken various shapes and forms, usually involving a vast extension of the invite list. Originally the idea – my (cost-cutting) idea – was to have the party for Jem and then do something separate, and smaller, with Carys a week later. At that point Carys was adamant she didn’t want a joint party with her little brother – at six, all your street cred goes right out of the window. Or country lane cred, given the village setting of her school. She was much more enamoured with a plan to take three of her closest friends to see Tangled and then on for a milkshake.
So eight people from Jem’s playgroup, a couple of token friends of Carys made a dozen people for the party. At a fiver a head in the local pub, this seemed like a bargain.
Unfortunately Carys’ list of token friends became a list of all the girls in her class (seven). And as it’s a joint party and Jem’s got boys going, if you invite the girls in her class, surely you have got to invite the boys too. It’s only good manners. Or madness, as I like to call it.
The guest list quickly expanded into the early 20s – then there were the kids in the village to consider, most of whom were in other years but as word of a joint party would spread, surely they would feel a bit snubbed. It didn’t matter that we hadn’t received invites to parties for their children – call us nutters but you tend to go with your own standards of party etiquette when you’re organising one yourself, not other people’s.
So the guest list stands at about 30 now – not so much of a bargain anymore but as some are of toddler age and won’t eat much more than half a sausage roll, we are going to ask for the pub to cater for 25 and put out a few extra plates. The waste would be heartbreaking and parents don’t tend to graze as much at the leftovers in January. Except pretzels – they always fly off the paper plates.
I would like to say the expense ends there but, alas, I have been put in charge of entertainment. And I am sailing very very close to the wind. The kids want a mobile disco. One chap – the best in the area – can’t make it, another I am reluctant to try because he just brings his equipment along and plays song after song and doesn’t do much else. Well, thinks Grumpy Dad, I could do that.
So we come to the third option, my plan of action. There’s a place where you can hire disco lights and speakers and I am assured that this is cheaper. All I need to do is plug in the stereo and/or laptop, line up a few tunes and bingo – we’re off. I could even connect a microphone for a game of musical statues.
Of course I realise that there is more to this party compering that just playing a few songs. Disaster looms and I risk making a fool of myself by pretending to do something when it is clear I haven’t a clue what I am doing. Which brings us back to Nick Clegg…