Friday, 8 May 2009


It has arrived and it is in use. It really shouldn’t have been bought until next month but it seemed a shame not to buy it now because whilst the weather is okay at the moment, “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date” and there’s no guarantee that we will have a glut of dry, sun-filled days over the next few months.

We are talking about presents:

Every year The Joshua makes two lists. The first list is started on Boxing Day which carries him through the not quite six month period to his birthday. The second list begins on the day after his birthday and takes him through the just over six month period to Christmas. In theory, he is meant to add and subtract from the lists according to whether the items he places on it decrease in popularity. If they do, the items are removed. That’s the theory. In practice, Josh never goes off an item and the lists become longer and longer each year.

About four weeks before Christmas and about four weeks before his birthday, negotiations begin. Joshua, DH and I sit down and go through the meticulously prepared list item by item. Discussions are usually conducted without argument and, to date, we haven’t had to contact ACAS to help us reach agreement. DH and I are somewhat wary of the notebook that Joshua brings with to the negotiations because this comprises The Very Frightening List that we are sure he will present us with when he’s about 18 and that is when we will discover the going rate for the sale of parental souls.

There are, as you will have read in the first paragraph, items on this year’s Birthday List that have been purchased in advance of Joshua’s 12th birthday. He has been using a Wacom Pad at school which allows him to draw straight to computer. He is on the Gifted and Talented register at his school and attends a special Arts diploma class after school each week with other boys two or three years his senior – so he really is a talented kid and if he really does need and will use something that has to do with his art and drawing, we cut a bit of slack and buy it for him. He has wanted a Wacom pad for quite some time and since its purchase he has rarely been away from it whilst he’s at home.

Other items on this year’s list include an X Box 360 along with several games or programmes for it, some boxed DVD sets of his favourite programmes, various books that he want to read, a long leather coat so that he can (he assures me) just “look” like a Goth and he would like to have his hair dyed red during the Summer holidays. His ideal colour would be similar to Jane Goldman’s and that item meets with a maternal “We shall see”!

I have a fairly bad habit of encouraging Josh to write items on his list because I want to play with them. This year, I have been gently suggesting that he may like a silent drum kit because I want to play the drums. Josh has been adamant about not wanting one and I am forever destined to drum my fingers on most hard surfaces or, if I’m lucky and we eat Chinese, I occasionally get to syncopate with chopsticks.

On the whole, Josh isn’t a particularly sporty kid so DH and I were very pleased when the item that I mentioned at the beginning of this blog appeared on the list.

It is, of course, a trampoline. I agreed to its early purchase because I knew that Josh would use it right throughout the Summer and I’m always glad to see him enjoying outdoor activities as well as his many indoor hobbies.

Nobly, I also thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get a little exercise, too. I used to be quite good at trampolining when I was at school, so when it arrived, for the first time in 37 years, I had a go and was much chuffed that I could still remember how to bounce and not too many bits of me wobbled too much! Ignobly, I agreed to the purchase of the trampoline because it will give me a marvellous opportunity to spasmodically take a look at our neighbours’ gardens!

Joshua, having such expensive tastes, will prevent me from ever being able to say that I’m “too rich” but since the advent of the trampoline I may at least bounce my way towards being “too thin”!


  1. Try having said exorbitant lists multiplied by two and you will have some sympathy for the hobbit parents. Added complication of one birthday occurring only two weeks before christmas. I think you can imagine how long that list is having had 12 months to think about the additions

  2. As usual, Karen, you made The Skipper and me laugh out loud with this one, especially over your hankering for drums - maybe you should start a list of your own!

    Thanks so much for the great cheer you bring into our lives with every post :-)

  3. Hm... that's... a really smart way of handling presents and such. Unless something is occuring without my knowledge, it may be a while before Girl One and I have to worry about such things, but I think your process of lists and negotiations will stick in my head till such a time as it's necessary.

    Girl One and I, of course, get EVERYTHING that we want, so negotiations aren't needed!

    Drums? Really? I have to admit that since being treated to Guitar Hero, I have found a previously hidden preoccupation with dramatic axe-grinding and power ballads!

  4. Brilliant fun. I like a good bounce, me. Sadly my man boobs - my moobs - don't like it though and I get trampolinists nipple.

    Great stuff as ever! x

  5. Thanks for the comments! Am very glad I don't have to think about lists for more than one child - especially with one having a birthday so near to Christmas ... that must make life really difficult!
    As much as I would love a silent drumkit, I don't think our finances will stretch to me having a list of my own! Unless, of course, I write a brief tract for people to purchase on the "How to spend money on your children using the gentle art of negotiation". I wonder if it would sell?
    And am most concerned about Stevyn's medical condition! There's a niche in the market surely for non-irritating sports shirts?

  6. Ooh, I want one too. And given the chance, so would my 12-year-old.
    He is currently in the throes of putting together another "I want" list, depsite the fact that his birthday was in February. Here in Greece Name Days have equal or greater status to birthdays. I still insist on celebrating birthdays, being a True Brit.

    Result? He gets Birthday, Name Day & Christmas pressies, lucky little sod.

    I, on the other hand, get nothing as my birthday is within days of the Other Half's Name Day and there is no St. Mandi in the Greek calendar.

    A little bounce now and then might be some compensation....