Monday, 22 October 2018
WHEN I inform the Grumpy Grannie that I’m helping to organise a joint party for the Sunshiney Seven-Year-Old and his friend’s eighth birthday, she gasps in horror.
“Oh, how dreadful, Darling!”
“Don’t worry, you don’t have to come,” I sigh, stupidly thinking for a second that she’ll be offended by my not asking her and beg for an invitation.
“Ha! I wouldn’t dream of coming!”
Grandmother of the Year strikes again.
“Honestly, I can’t think of anything worse — childrens’ parties? What a nightmare. I didn’t even like going to them when I was a child!”
Miserable old moo, I think to myself.
“A little less of the old,” she says and I can see her pursing her lips and giving me the death stare like she always does when she’s telling me off — even though we’re on the phone.
How does she always know what I’m thinking?
“Because Mummy knows everything,” she chirrups. “Now what might my beautiful grandson like in terms of a present, do you think? I mean, what on earth do you get for an eight-year-old?”
“Darned if I know,” I say, checking that I haven’t inadvertently switched Skype on somehow and she’s watching me from my laptop on the kitchen table.
“But I did have a list somewhere… it’s with his letter to Santa somewhere under this pile…of…argh! Why is everything so messy all the time?!”
“Because you are,” the Grumpy Grannie states.
Has she hidden a camera in the kitchen somewhere?
“What? No I’m not!” I feel my cheeks reddening with indignation.
“Calm down, Darling,” she chuckles, her throaty laugh threatening to descend into a choking fit, “I don’t mean physically. Although…”
“No, I mean emotionally.”
Here we go, I think, and gird my loins for the “free your mind and your a*** will follow” lecture Mum has been giving me since I was five in the Seventies.
“Seriously,” she goes on, “if you can get your head straight, everything else will naturally fall into place.”
“But I’ve had the de-clutterer around and I know there’s a place for everything and everything’s in its place, I just can’t remember what I’ve got or where the hell it might ****** well be!”
“Just take it slowly, one pile at a time,” she advises. “And maybe think about a time management course.”
“I haven’t got time for time management!” I squeal, sending random envelopes, Post-it notes and several pieces of A4 paper sailing to the floor — the muddy, sticky wooden floor I’ve been meaning to mop for, ooh, a couple of years now.
I tell Mum I’ve got to go and hang up. I can feel tiny, invisible needles pricking the end of my nose, signalling an imminent blub-fest and I don’t want her to hear me crying, lest she think I’m losing it.
I don’t know, it’s all this emphasis on being organised and spit-spot that’s driving me mad, I think. I mean, since when did it become socially unacceptable to not have a “command centre” on your kitchen wall complete with in-trays, blackboards, keyholders, weekly menus and family calendars?
And the effort it takes to keep calm and carry on is exhausting! No wonder we’re all super-stressed, mainlining coffee, cakes and booze and passing out at the mere suggestion of meditation. Or is that just me?
Luckily for me, though, when I say I’m helping organise a party, what I mean is someone else, someone highly competent in just about everything in life is doing the lion’s share. Okay, all of it.
And just as I’m about to burst into tears with the futility of it all, this person, this saint, the Loveliest Neighbour In The World (who’s moved away but still retains her title) sends me a text:
“I’ve booked the hall, contacted the parents of those we want to invite — now all that’s left to do is blow up a few balloons and have some fun! xxx”
Unsurprisingly, this cheers me no end. Because there’s no doubt about it, if you want something done properly, ask someone who knows what they’re doing to do it for you.
It’s just a bummer I can’t afford to pay someone to blow up the balloons.
But that’s another story…
12 March 2018
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