Monday, June 19, 2006

Party Lessons

Any intelligent man will recognise the wisdom of that advice printed on every bottle of tablets, "Keep Out of Reach of Children". Its not always possible, though, especially when your daughter has her 8th birthday party. One moment, a beautiful young lady, a tiny shy thing, waiting patiently for her friends to arrive. The doorbell rings, and suddenly a bulldozer smashes past, wrenching the front door off its frame to a cry of "Where's my present, waddidya bring me?" The friend is rammed up against the wall and frisked, and you realise you've brought a future Customs Officer into the world.

"Sorry, she's a bit excited", I mumble to the boy's mother, but she isn't listening; she's already cataloguing and pricing everything in the hallway to see if we measure up socially.

Fifteen minutes later there were 21 guests present, girls inside and boys out in the yard. At my age we used to point sticks at each other and yell "Bang bang, you're dead", but these days they point plastic and scream “Zap zap, you're sterile".

A tiny mouse tugged on my sleeve and said "I'm Amber." "I know dear," replied I, "Everyone is Amber". We had 8 Ambers, 5 Rebeccas, 3 Jakes and about half a dozen Jamies and Simons. Where have all the Arthurs gone? What happened to Reg, Peter, Harold, Muriel, Agnes, Dorothy or Flo? When was the last Gerald born?

Lunch was announced. Talk about eat, drink and be messy! Can anyone tell me why the only time a child sneezes is when they have a mouthful of cake? I gained a new understanding of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, for surely we scraped from the floor, walls and ceiling afterward at least 2-3 times more food than we had started with.

But it was only after lunch that the real problem became clear, and it can be summed up thus: never serve 10 jugs of lemonade in a house that has only one bathroom.

It was one of the Simons who came to me first, with the announcement "I have to, like, now!"
"You have to like what now?" I asked, but one of the Rebecca's was tugging at my other sleeve.
"Where's the tinkle?"
"The what?"
She was interrupted by another one.
"I have to make a whistle!" he shouted in excitement.
I had no idea what to make of it, but then luckily one of the Ambers came over and helped out.
"They need to go to the loo!" she said, rolling her eyes as if I were an idiot.

Understanding dawned, not the way it does here in Tassie, but like in the tropics, the way dawn comes all at once and in one big rush.
"Oh", I said, turning to the Simon, "You need to go to the toilet!"
"Not any more" he said, heading outside to find something that hadn't been destroyed yet.

Later that evening, as I was scrubbing the carpet, I mused on the strangeness of the world, which has narrowed the number of names for children to little more than a dozen or two, but has created an infinite number for toilet. It dawned on me that what we need is some sort of Royal Commission or Department which can examine all the options and decide on one standardized word for toilet which parents must teach their children. It strikes me that the man heading it up should be one of high intelligence and moral fibre, perhaps a priest, a man of God.

Yes, now is the time for all God men to come to the aid of the potty.

Adapted from 'My Word'

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