Tricky will be two years old in July. This is causing me some stress.
It’s not the actual birthday itself or seeing my baby grow up etc etc it’s the pressure of deciding which family members get to share in the actual day.
There are three potential locations for the blessed event. We live with the three Naughty Nephews and their parents in Sydney, my parents plus one sister plus one step brother live in Newcastle, and C’s parents plus one brother (who couldn’t give a flying fuck if we were there or Timbuctoo) live on the opposite side of the country in Perth. (After some consideration, I am ruling out New Zealand where my sister AJ and her family live and also Bulgaria where C's older brother and his family live.)
The Perth location wouldn’t play much of a part in the festivities except that this year we are actually going to Perth around that time to spend some quality family time with Gramma and Papa.
At first the criteria for determining the dates when we would be fleeing our fair city were simple:
-around the time of Tricky turning two (when we would have to pay for his seat)
-during Youth Day Celebrations, which, despite the reasonable sounding name, actually lasts for a whole week and rather than just being just one Youth (which would probably be manageable) will actually involve many hundreds of thousands of bright eyed Catholic Youths all descending onto Sydney, in particular the region surrounding our house, and making merry with the Lord. The roads will be closed, the buses will be full and (oddly, I think) the racecourse taken over to help contain all that joy joy joy deep in our hearts.
I and my sisters were bright eyed Catholic Youths at various times of our lives but in an ad hoc, depending on location, sort of way. In Penang we were quite devout and managed to all get holy confessed and communed, whereas in Hoppers Crossing we were basically a tearaway bunch of godless heathens.
Yet, thinking back, that was also the time that my sister AJ and I attended a Catholic Ladies College. One term only. Thankfully. We had just moved back from Malaysia and the language I had been learning there was Indonesian. This was not part of the CLC curriculum. I could choose either French or Italian. This would have been ok except the other students had been learning their language all year and as it was now final term there was no way I could keep up.
Solution? Pop me into the English As A Second Language class.
Here I, and the other young ladies recently emigrated from countries where they did not speak English, practiced our conversation skills, matched flashcards with pictures, and now and then filled out stencils.
It was excruciating.
Yet, interestingly I found this class far more appealing than the actual English class where the syllabus for the entire term appeared to be a close read (without irony) of that entirely appropriate for 13 year old girls literary masterpiece: Tom Brown’s Schooldays.
Each lesson saw us painfully reading aloud together a few paragraphs (dictionary definitions where necessary). Every few weeks we had to hand in a list of written answers to questions on each chapter. One day, apropos of nothing, the English teacher asked us to write a poem on the moon. I nearly wet my pants in excitement. She must have left her novel at home that day. It never happened again.
Of course it is grossly unfair to base my prejudice towards the oncoming Catholic Youths on one term in a girls school and one extremely dull book but that’s the beauty of prejudice. It is unfair.
C asked me what dates he should book for our flight and I started dithering about nephews and parties and eucharists and Two Is A Milestone Year and rugby and fagging for Flashman.
C seemed oddly unphased by it all. He said that Tricky could have two, three, twenty three birthday parties if that made it easier to organise. Of course it did make it easier but then C didn’t make the cake last year.
In the final clash of the Titans, Mammon won over Jesus. We thought as long as the ticket was booked before the child turned two there would be no charge. Au contraire, flight had to be done and dusted before his birthdate. So now we’re getting back from Perth a few days before celebrations start – both for Tricky and the Pope. At least that’s one location struck from the list and maybe we’ll just go back to last year’s plan and have one birthday in Sydney and one in Newcastle, which would give us a good plan of escape.
Or maybe we’ll just bite the wafer and stick around to enjoy the ambience.
There’s a lot of love in that racecourse.