Apr 29

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 and friends

At the party

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.

sucking the helium

Story Time

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

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Feb 06

Doesn’t happen every day. But one day your children become adults. One of mine just did.

18 years is a bit of a stint really, to be a parent.  I think it’s been my aim to get my children to this point, and then say “My work here is done”.    I’ve been trying to help and encourage them to grow into independent adults that can look after themselves, make a contribution to the world they live in and be happy people.

I think I’ve succeeded.   I’m sure there is still some way to go on some things but mostly done.  Of course, how Caitlin sees it may be a different matter, but then, that’s her matter.

We went for a Mexican feed on the night of her 18th, that’d be a family event, Michael, Tomas, Caitlin and myself.  Oh, and her mother, Jennie.  I really just wrote it like that because I know it will wrangle Jennie.  I could not have done this alone, Jennie has been an important part of Caitlin’s life and has provided those things that I either don’t know how to do or didn’t want to do.  Jennie and Caitlin have a wonderful relationship which warms the cockles of my heart.

The restaurant wasn’t great.  Service was slow, food was sloppy, I found it generally unappealing.   Company was good though.

Caitlins Party Invite

The next night was the big party.  Caitlin had decided on a theme of the Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz.  We’d spent months gathering green things for the event.  I took the day off work and we started decorating the house.  We had even created a yellow brick road for the porch area, a piece of plastic tablecloth, about three metres long, we had spent some hours creating bricks on it using masking tape and several cans of yellow spray paint, and I must say it did come up very well.  We covered the wall just inside the front door with some green cellophane and Caitlin stuck some of her childhood photos all over it, then inside on our big old toy box she put some of those important objects that parents tend to keep, kinder photo albums, her first work of art, certificates and so on.  On the opposite wall was a ‘mural’ with a few images from the Wizard of Oz film, and then on the only remaining space we cut out love hearts from green paper, and as the night progressed asked people to write a message to Caitlin on a heart.  I’m going to put them into a book for her.

With the help of my sister Angela, we put up lots of green tinsel and decorations, balloons – even some helium filled ones and streamers.  Half way through the set up my brother David arrived.  He was down from Queensland and it must be ten years since I’d seen him at my house!  That was a treat.  He stayed and helped set up and then later made himself useful by taking charge of the BBQ! The house was done.  Next job, us.  Off to the costume shop.  Caitlin was Dorthy, of course, Tomas was the tin man and I came as the Wizard.  Costumes on and back home to wait for the guests to arrive.

A variety of people in costumes started rolling in the door.  There were witches and the strawman, a rainbow, a few Dorothys and even the Emerald City itself.  All truly fabulous!

The Wizard, The Tinman, The Rainbow and Dorothy

There were speeches and food.  Music and laughter.  All in all a really good night.  Again I reveled in setting up the house for a party, going to a bit of trouble to make it look just right.  I think we have had just about every birthday at home and since primary school have had a theme.  It’s fun.  A bit of work, but really good fun.

One down one to go.

[Michael’s photos of the big event]

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