It wasn’t too long back when his sister, Caitlin celebrated her 18th birthday.
Tomas reach adulthood in March, and just like I’ve done for every party since their first, we had it at home. Tomas decided not to have a big theme, he wanted everyone just to dress up in formal gear and come along.
I’d prepared a BBQ and plenty to eat.
Tomas friends are quite the eccentric lot. Perhaps that’s more to do with my perceptions than theirs. His friends seem to hold Tomas in high regard, and this shows through the interaction between them. I can see a lot of mutual respect for each other and an openness between them,which is really quite lovely.
We hung some balloons, blu-tacked streamers to the walls, displayed photos, found a suitable range of music, dimmed the lights, spread the food, and got the slide show running.
I’d scanned many images of Tomas from the last 18 years, he was born in that time just before the invention of the digital camera! Before the party started we watched the slide show on the TV, we laughed a little. The photos show a young lad that has always been ‘out there’. We passed over a shot of Tomas sitting naked on the toilet, talking on the telephone, everything in full view. It was only just before the party started that Tomas thought better of actually having his 3-year-old bits on display, so we deleted that one. I wanted to leave it in! Perhaps I’ll keep it for his 21st.
Jennie was there, she has always set herself little goals of being at something. It’s her way of snubbing her cancer, she won’t let it kill her, she has too much to do. She wants to be about for a birthday, a graduation or to simply see who wins the cooking show on TV. It’s difficult for her to be there under a great deal of pain. I admire her stoic approach and it’s good that we make the most of these shared times.
The speeches came and Tomas’ grandparents had a few words, Jennie and Caitlin and then me. I then had Tomas sit on my knee and with one helium filled balloon each we read “Green Eggs and Ham”.
The party wore on and for reasons that I don’t think I’ll ever understand, the young people congregate in the hallway. There’s a whole house built around that hallway, with big open spaces, but they insist on sitting with their backs to the wall and chatting there.
Now both my children are 18. Tomas has passed that magic date. I’m looking forward to this new era of our lives. For awhile now my role as Dad has been to encourage Tomas (and Caitlin) to take charge of their own lives, to make their own decisions. I’ve tried to give subtle guidance, well, at times not so subtle. Now it’s down to them.
Just last week Michael and I went to the 1st Birthday party of a friend’s son. I see the journey ahead for Daniel and Sam, along with Rupert, as they start out on this trip through life. I’ve just been on that road. During the speeches at the 1st birthday party I listened as the parents of Rupert explained their wishes and desires for their son as he grows up. The values that they wish to develop within him, while at the same time leaving plenty of space for Rupert to be his own person. My journey hasn’t ended, there is still a long way for Tomas and Caitlin to go. For my part, I hope that I’ve been able to set them up in life with the skills to take charge of their own lives and be the person they want to be.
Unfortunately my skills haven’t been able to extend to dishwashing or bedroom cleaning.
More wonderful photos taken by Michael here