My daughter celebrated her fifth birthday basking on the sunny shores of Western Australia. Now I know adults have a tendency to impose their opinions and preferences on their children, but I've had some time to reflect now and have come to the conclusion that we may have unwittingly spoiled our little girl. I reckon, even through the eyes of a five-year-old, her Big Day was tough to beat. It included:
*A ferry ride
*Snorkeling in the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean
*Castle building in the powdery white sand of Perth's beaches
*Cake (in the shape of a dinosaur and with candles)
*A trip to the aquarium with sting ray stroking and shark and Nemo fish gawping
To top off the day, pizza and ice-cream with sparklers.
I ask you, does it get any better. Seriously, even my 40th, which was, frankly a cracker, struggles to top my daughter's fifth.
So, as the day drew to a close one would fairly expect, would one not, a birthday girl gushing with gratitude? A girl, surely now appreciative of her amazingly cool, generous and loving parents? A girl who must believe that her mum and dad could walk on water should the need arise?
On the way back to the car, she spotted an old, dilapidated carousel outside a newsagents. It was a slot type, requiring the insertion of $2 for no doubt less than a minute's lame ride and it was for babies.
The first "no" of the day was not well received. Collapsing into tears of disappointment she accused us, Parents of the Year, of being mean and unfair! Needless to say, birthday or no birthday, the recalcitrance was given short shrift and a few choice words were had.
So here is my question to you:
Was, what seemed at the time to be a demonstration of consummate ingratitude and petulance actually just a five-year-old being, well, five? As I took the time to explain why her outburst angered and frustrated me, she snivelled and nodded but I could see she was agreeing just to get the tongue-lashing over with. As I reminded her of the fact that her fifth birthday would be a day her friends would be envious of, I was a second away from the old "there are children in Africa..." chestnut.
Is it fair to expect a small child to understand moral reasoning? Whilst I, understandably thought about all the stops we had pulled out, all the wonderful new experiences she'd had and the money we had spent, she was simply focussed on the present. The carousel was the here and now and she was well and truly focussed on it.
And ultimately isn't that exactly what we adults all crave, the ability to live in the moment? Further deliberation and I decided I had probably been unfair.
I ended up buying her a skateboard.