Yesterday I brought Callum to a church Christmas party. He had SO much fun. In fact, I don’t think I have EVER seen him so happy in all his life. Happy, as in… UNCONTAINABLE EXPLODING BUM SHAKING GLEE.
I think it was most likely the combination of balloons, games, prizes, streamers, presents for everyone and fun-sized chocolate bars… not to mention five tables full of deep fried finger foods and desserts. He was in kid heaven. I decided to let Callum enjoy himself and not be too strict on what he ate. I figured, meh, once a year can’t hurt.
The program was designed for much bigger kids (6 -12 years), so for most of the evening, Callum and I just doddled around, watched and chatted about stuff. He was good sport, excellent company, and genuinely interested in everything that was going on around us.
At one point he found some other kids his age and they ran around like giddy lunatics. It was nice to watch.
When I was a fired up youth, I used to organise these kiddy Christmas parties. One of my tasks was to make the lolly bags for the kids to take home. I remember that I used to arrive at the warehouse discount lolly shop and think, “What’s the COOLEST and YUMMIEST lollies around, and how many can I stuff into this lolly bag?”
Over the years, I filled those bags with plastic sherbert guns. Little mobile phones with candied coins. Necklaces with lolly beads. Fruity sour jubes. Fizzy coke bottles. Warheads. Jelly pythons. Bubblegum tape. Milk bottles. Strawberry creams. Fruit sherbert. Jelly cup things. Chupachups. Marshmallows. Chocolate dipping things. Toffee apples. Red Skins. Caramello koalas. Freddo Frogs.
I KNEW the kids would love them. After all, I was a kid once.
But here I was. A parent. Listening to Callum squeal in the car as he dug through his lolly bag. His toes wiggled with delight. I cringed as he pulled out item after item. Each, no doubt, coated with every imaginable sugary chemical, food colouring, preservative, additive, thickener, and synthetic enzyme.
“Look mum! What’s this??” He held up a packet of fizzy sherbert.
“Um, it’s… stuff.”
“Uhm. Hey look at that big green truck!”
He didn’t hear me. He went all sparkly and tinkly and ooohed and aahhed with reverence and wonder. I saw it in his eyes…. oh god, what have I done? How am I going to get rid of all that shite without him noticing?
It has come full circle. Surely, I was being punished.