Party tricks


Yesterday my five-year-old picked me out an enormous black ‘crystal’ necklace from the local discount shop. It is hideous, and one of the most beautiful presents I have ever received because he is beside himself with the joy of giving.

The three of them were taken out to buy me a birthday present last night, and I told my husband that I wouldn’t judge him if they decided that the best present for a 43-year-old woman was a small box of boy Lego (I reject the pink Lego on principle). Usually, it is hard to steer them away from self-gifting – as it is, come to think of it, hard to nudge myself away from self-gifting – but they really invested themselves this time in the art of buying presents. I got: two fabric pink roses, a small square bar of dark cherry chocolate, socks with red flowers on them (‘Look Mama, these are real socks for women so you don’t have to wear ours anymore’), a tube of suncream, an oddly shaped navy T-shirt and the aforementioned startlingly ugly moody crystal necklace. It’s the first time I’ve seen the older boys taking more pleasure in giving than getting something; they were lit up, glowing.

Other birthday things: While dithering in the park yesterday I made plans to join a few others on the beach at 6.30am for yoga and then a swim in the sea. That is my ideal morning! I enthused to them; yes, this would set the tone of the year so perfectly. Yoga, then a swim! Where would you get it? Then I turned to pick up the baby, fell and twisted my ankle badly. Now I can’t walk on it.

You just can’t make plans, can you? I mean, you can sketch out a broad picture of how you’d like your life to look, and set yourself in that general direction, knapsack on your back and hoping for the best, but that’s about it. Anyway. I am 43. In words stolen from a mindful self-compassion course I did a few years ago which I absolutely hated – this year, may I be happy, may I be safe, may I live with ease, may I be free from pain.