Today we celebrated the 14th birthday of our twin boys, Man-Child and Teen-Child. My husband made the generous offer of getting up early this morning to cook them a bang up brekky on the BBQ, before they headed off to school. Of course he indulged also. After school they caught up with their mates and hung about, and then their grandfather shouted them out to dinner. All in all a pretty nice day.
What is incredibly scary is to look back at photos of one year ago and see the baby-faced pre-pubescent boys that were my children, and now look at the little men in front of me. I kid you not in one year I really believe that they have each grown at least 6 inches, and their feet have grown 3 sizes. Whilst the shoes have been replaced in rapid succession, fortunately as they have get taller, they have been able to wear the same size clothes for some time, because whilst they go up they don’t normally go out – in fact one of ours got thinner over the last 12 months as he lost his “baby-fat”. So not surprisingly at the end of the cricket season there were many gangly teenage boys with unfashionably short cricket pants – I for one was completely sympathetic to the mothers who refused to replace them so late in the season – they can make do until next season.
In these days of social media, it wasn’t surprising to see the constant stream of birthday messages for the boys on their Facebook pages. I admit it was quite nice to recently receive so many public Happy Birthday messages from friends across the globe myself. It’s definitely good for the ego and really does reflect the core “social” aspect of Facebook and other similar sites.
One of our boys (Man-Child) had mentioned in passing that his best mate had bought him a present for his birthday. I thought at the time how sweet that he would actually buy a gift even though they were not having an “official” celebration with friends. You can imagine my surprise today when Man-Child came home from school with $80 cash – a gift of $50 from a very generous friend, and another gift of $30 from another generous friend. Quite frankly we were more than a little gob-smacked, and actually somewhat embarrassed. As we discussed the fortunes of our son, he made it very clear that of course he would reciprocate with similar sums of money when the same friends had their birthdays. So i naturally enquired if he thought we should be funding that generosity or him? His response: “If you won’t pay for it I’ll just take it out of my bank account!” (said like a spoiled child indeed). Our position is this – at a stretch, if our son feels so strongly about giving his best friend a present, then we might buy a $20-30 present for him (which is the normal budget for birthday parties). But under no circumstances would we feel obligated to match the generosity of his parents, and nor in fact do I think they would expect it.
Unfortunately (and clearly he has a lot to learn) Man-Child was mortified at our response, and the fact we were such “tight-arses” (some terms don’t alter after all :)). Without sounding moralistic, if our son’s friend had used his own money to save up and give his mate a present, I would have been delighted. But when he’s throwing around mum and dad’s money, and our son expects the same, I wonder what values we are teaching them?
I’m not sure my son will understand what we’re talking about in the near term; it seems it’s only when you are very young (too young to understand), or as you get older (and more mature) that you realise your friends don’t value you for material possessions. Such is the journey of life (and wealth)!