Adam Bird


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Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Beating the Birthday Blues

I am not much of a birthday fan, I really don't know why. They contain all the things that I enjoy and love; beer, presents, champagne, chocolate, cake, clowns, balloons and bouncy castles. But on Saturday I 'celebrated' my twenty-eight birthday and wasn't in the mood to shout it from the rooftops.

In the build up to my 'big day', Stephanie asked me on a daily basis whether I wanted to have a BBQ and get everybody around. In all honesty, no I never, it would mean drawing more attention to the fact that I was another year older. It would also mean getting drunk, which I wouldn't have minded but have been doing a lot of that recently and so wanted to do something a bit different.

I have no idea where my fear of ageing comes from. It is a fact of life, as soon as we enter the world we are a moment older than we were just now. I wouldn't say that I sit and dwell upon my mortality, but for me an annual birthday is a reminder that your one step closer to your maker than you were before.

Having a birthday on 26th July does have it's benefits. More often than not the weather is glorious. When your a kid your birthday is ALWAYS in the school holidays so you never have to suffer a birthday beating, or some other playground ritual. Instead you get to have magical days out at the beach with your grandparents, or go to theme parks with your Mum, Dad and Sister, the kind of day I wanted instead.

By having a day out, like the one I enjoyed when I was younger I was hoping that I would be able to roll back the years and not feel quite so old. It would also be a role reversal with me as the grown up ensuring that the children had the best possible time, which I don't mind at all.

Having Oliver has changed our possibilities when it comes to taking a family trip. No longer can we plan adrenaline based escapades to Thorpe Park to be swung, looped and spun to the extreme. Instead, something a little more sedate and family friendly is called for. Both Stephanie and I have been to Chessington World of Adventures hundreds of times, so I wanted to go somewhere different and thought that Legoland Windsor would be perfect for a little adventurer Oliver's size.

With Jessica and James in London celebrating their first wedding anniversary, we decided to take Indigo with us so that Mum and Dad only had the three kids to look after instead of the four! It actually helped us out massively having an extra child with us as it meant neither Stephanie and I would be standing around whilst the other took Oliver on a ride.

Although Legoland is probably the most 'family friendly' theme park in the UK, it wasn't quite the right place for Oliver and Indigo. By about 4cm's! They had a great time on the rides that they were able to go on, but there was only about five or so. Once your 0.9m tall, the world is your oyster and you can go on nearly everything. It didn't matter too much, there is still plenty to do if you are vertically challenged. From splashing around in the waterworks to sitting in a Lego 'imaginarium' playing with the bricks you will never be bored.

Both Stephanie and I hope that Oliver and Indigo had a great day, but for me it was a case of mission accomplished, in more ways than one. As we queued up for a boat ride the ride operator shouted out to everybody, explaining that it was a young girl's 7th birthday and wanted everyone in the queue to sing her happy birthday. We all did, with gusto, making that little girl's day. (I did feel a little pang of jealousy and was going to let the rider operator know it was also my birthday too, but he had gone by the time we had reached where he was standing!) But by being a witness at that particularly moment, brought home to me just why it was I didn't like birthday's anymore.

It's not the getting old that is the problem, it's just the not being young anymore. Seeing that little girl's smile on her face, big as a plate, reminded me of when birthday's used to be full of surprises, the day seemed to last forever and everything felt magical. You would wake up at the end of the bed and presents used to be sitting there, just for you, not your smelly younger sister. It was your day, doing all the things that you liked best.

Anyone for Musical Chairs?


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