I was sitting at my local cafe enjoying my start to the morning while at the next door table a mum and her two young children were playing “gift giving”. The girls were 12 and 10 and it was the older girl’s birthday. As she unwrapped present after present, a pattern was forming. The watch wasn’t quite the right one, the Lego was more suited to someone a little younger, the clothes were not quite what she was looking for and the camera was, well, “what would I need a camera for?”
The cafe floor was strewn with paper as she unwrapped a dozen presents and broke her mother’s heart with every one. I know it is difficult to be a twelve-year-old girl. There was no sign of dad. Though somewhat conspicuously all but one of the presents was wrapped in the same paper, so I’m guessing he supplied that one.
All said and done, the present unveiling was not a stunning success. She was totally underwhelmed. I didn’t understand if she was spoiled rotten and wanted more, or she was hoping dad would appear inside one of the parcels, or she was just out of step with what was going on for some reason. The only real success was the pair of fluffy slippers that immediately went on her feet.
Mum had certainly gone to a lot of trouble to make the birthday presents special and the other daughter sat and watched the gift giving without a single grumble or jealous gripe which makes me think the birthday girl just expected something else perhaps. For whatever the reason, it was heart wrenching to watch the mother give it her very best shot and come up way short.
It was heart wrenching because today as the day my son comes out of hospital where he has been recovering from what was supposed to be a routine day surgery “home by lunchtime” procedure. Three days later, he will be coming home and I can’t wait. I will want to give him a big hug, but he will be both too big to do that with any real effect and still too sore to do with any real gusto.
I hope in years to come the birthday girl will come to realise that, as Mick Jagger has been telling us for years, we can’t always get what we want and that a parent’s love, may be all that you need.