1982 was a busy year for me. Just a few months before my 6th birthday, change came. One day in February I went from school to a neighbour’s house where we had grilled bananas on toast. The next day I wandered into my Senior Infants Class to report the ‘shock’ news that my Mummy had a baby.
Apparently, it really was in my mind quite a sudden event though I am fairly sure I was alone in that. In fairness to my parents this wasn’t one of those Daily Star ‘I Went to the Loo and Had a Baby’ stories. Pretty much it was only me that had been in denial. My poor Mum kept telling me about this exciting news that baby No. 4 was coming but I was having none of it. Clearly I was happy with the status quo.
I can remember this new baby, my new little brother, coming home and I’m pretty sure I can recall some re-con missions to look in the cradle and see what the fuss was all about. Likely – as a parent, I’m not remembering what I’m sure were the many times when peaks were pokes and my folks had heart attacks at the suffocating ‘love’ of my younger self. Selective memory is a great thing.
No doubt my strongest memories of this wee man are likely fuelled by the scattering of dodgy, fuzzy photos that characterise the holidays and celebrations of all Irish families of the time. He was very blond, very fluffy and a pudge ball of delight. He was also a little bit of a pain in the arse! As a toddler he wisely decided not to speak – with the exception of his favourite word ‘contact’ which he shouted from his high chair to a bemused crowd of smiling faces. He was mistrusting of food in other people’s house insisting on bringing smelly little bags of salami sandwiches to our Aunties houses where much nicer lasagna and stews were on offer. But he believed pretty much everything I told him – which worked to great advantage in persuading him to feed the monster in my tummy his sweets, so he was useful to have around.
My little blond play thing grew up. He survived the inevitable accidents (I think the eyebrow scar kind of suits you dude), arguments (perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight and balanced hormone levels, I wasn’t always right) and bust ups (looking back its admirable really that you never hit a girl back – particularly when that girl MAY have deserved it).
Though he’s not a kid anymore, this still blond bundle will always be my Baby Brother – even if he does hover somewhere around the 6ft 3 mark. He’s a fantabulous brother, a brilliant friend and very popular with toddlers who like being spun-around til they feel queasy.
So for birthdays and at Christmas we, as a rule, really really try and aim for personalised gifts. This year, in some exacting circumstances I have excelled myself – and on a budget of limited provisions too! Having (perhaps) relied on late night shopping on the eve of finishing work, my best made plans have been set aside thanks to a fairly sudden and early ‘incarceration’ in the pre-natal ward of the Maternity Hospital. Working from a hurriedly packed maternity and labour bag and the limited diabetes-inducing stock of the Hospital’s gift shop, I have created a unique one-off piece for my dear brother fashioned from a number of highly padded items and stuck together with ‘modesty’ tape that had conveniently resided in the bottom of a bathroom bag, probably from the late 90’s. And here it is, in all its alternatively crafted glory. Hopefully it’s the ugliest thing I’ll ever homemake and blog about – but you have to admit it’s a good example of McGuyver style crafting in the face of some terrible gift-shopping odds.
Happy birthday C! And I told you I was actually that shameless (and bored) I’d get a blogpost out of it!!