Sunday, October 21, 2007

Plus ça change

by Rainbow from New Marriages and Old Families

Elder daughter J celebrated her 18th birthday yesterday. She hates surprises, so she'd told me exactly what to buy her - I'd complied, with a couple of extras - but even though she knew what she was opening, she actually got up at 7.30 so she could open her pressies with me before I went to work. She was affecting the attitude of not feeling any different, it being just like any other day - but I did notice later that she was waiting rather impatiently for her friends to arrive, just like she used to when she was little.

I've know most of her friends since they were 3, all of them since they were 11, and it's been fascinating watching them grow into women and how they've changed along the way. You notice it more with other kids than your own, since you're not seeing them all the time. (Although in the days when mine used to go and stay with grandma or granddad for a week to give me a break - obviously no one thinks I need one any more, sniff; although on second thoughts now we just go off and leave them at home - they always seemed to have grown a few inches when they came back.) One of the girls is now so strikingly beautiful I wouldn't have recognised her if I hadn't known who it was.

But some things haven't changed a bit. We still had to have banners and balloons festooning the room. The drink may have been rosé rather than Ribena, but their choice of food (to accompany the obligatory gooey chocolate cake) was the very health-conscious crisps, Maltesers and Minstrels. They were dressed in their best (clubbing rather than party) frocks, and the sounds that came from the garden when they were larking about taking photos could have come from a bunch of toddlers. And they still sing Happy Birthday and J made a wish when blowing out the EIGHTEEN spelled out by the candles. She even managed to wake me up at 3 in the morning, although this time it was by closing the front door rather than having a bad dream. And instead of the shaky M u m x x she used to scrawl on her pictures, the message on my desk this morning was the slightly more sophisticated Had a great night. Met Stacey from East Enders and got a photo with her. Ring me in the AFTERNOON. Lots of love x x x.

This is a hiatus for her, waiting for her A level results on Thursday, going on holiday next week and only then having to deal with the realities of the adult world, like the small matter of getting a job. Hope she enjoys it - although I don't think any of us really ever grow up, life is rarely again as simple as it is for her now. I guess all we can ask is that she's got some good memories and a solid foundation to fall back on - and that in 18 or even 80 years time she can still enjoy her birthday like a child!

Rainbow is recently married for the second time around, and blogs about merging the couple's two families, their children and their joint search for their roots - as well as whatever else takes her fancy! New marriages and old families at


nutmeg said...

My husband teaches hihg school (US). He has an expression about teen-agers: bigger bodies, same behaviors. Sometimes it's very endearing. Happy Birthday J.

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