Monday, July 17, 2006

Birthday weekend

Last Sunday was J's five year old birthday.

We'd forgotten his first birthday, didn't do anything for his second, and for his third I over-compensated by throwing a bash at a five star hotel. Feeling I had over done it and set a bad precedence, we only had my family over for his fourth. So this year, trying to strike a balance, we went to Gold Coast and stayed for one night. The observatory forecasted a grey cloud and heavy rain. None of that happened, of course. I knew that wouldn't happen. They are rarely ever accurate with their forecasts.

When B and I first moved back to Hong Kong, and I got my job, we stayed in the army barracks opposite Gold Coast (it is now the headquarters of the charity Crossroads). Then we moved across the road and stayed in a two bedroom apartment. I have good memories of that place. I got pregnant shortly after we moved there. B and I with my big belly used to go for walks along the promenade, on the beach.

Now they have redone all the tiles outside the apartment blocks where we used to live. Even more PINK than ever. Even the windows frames are all painted pink. Must be a feng shui thing. I hope.

After checking into our room and burning some cash in the "kids' world" (air hockey and ultraman video games), we headed out to the beach. This is an artificial beach. The sand was coarse but acceptable. There was rubbish on the beach, of course - wouldn't be a HK beach without them - but not so much that puts you off compleeeeetely. Yes. Very likely that I've become desensitized. The kids sure did not seem to mind. They enjoyed splashing around and getting hit by the waves. So much fun to be had and it was all for free.

The sky was grey but not gloomy, the wind was blowing and the temperature felt just right. Me and B took turns to watch the kids while the other one sat down and stared at the sea. A group of teenagers, all wearing matching T-shirts, were on some kind of police community relations/junior police call/mandatory community service thing, roaming the beach passing out leaflets and packets of tissue paper and handkerchiefs with warnings on them. The event was probably planned weeks ahead. Only to have it fall on a day forecasted by the observatory to be raining heavily. It looked like there were a total of twelve people on the whole beach. Those poor kids must have felt a bit silly. Their purpose seemed inane. I did my best and gotten myself two hankies and two packets of tissue (which smelled a bit funny).

In the evening we went out for a meal in the old Chilli and Spice and then the boys tried out J's new scooter which was one of his numerous birthday presents. I was quite unwell after we got back to our room though. I think I overdosed on the MSG; took me a whole day to recover.

Kids really don't need birthday presents. They could do with a birthday present, but anything more than three and they start spinning out of control; they just wouldn't know what to do with themselves anymore. Parenting nowadays, for people like me, is not about trying your best to give them the best you can give, but the opposite. We have to try our best to NOT give them so goddam much.

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