I love the month of May, with its promise of summer days ahead.
Plus with both boys celebrating their birthdays within 3 days of each other, there is that added excitement and anticipation, with endless conversations about presents and parties. You wouldn't know from the conversations that I too have a birthday in May, but, as my son said, it's best forgotten now that I'm "beyond middle aged".
The birthday present dilemma
What gets harder each year is knowing what to get them.
When the boys were younger, you could flick through the Argos catalogue and know they would be happy with any of the hundreds of plastic toys on offer. My youngest son became an expert at applying post it notes to pages, and could recite the catalogue numbers of pretty much every Nerf gun and Marvel figure.
But sadly those days have now gone, with the Marvel figures passed on to friends or younger cousins. The Nerf guns, however, make a nasty habit of reappearing from the box that I hid them in, and are used to ambush me on the odd occasion. Perhaps I should ask for a set of body armour for my birthday?
Quality not quantity
My youngest son pointed out that as he gets older, the quantity of presents gets smaller, but the quality improves. I pointed out that if that was the case, then I should definitely be in line for something very expensive but small. Something that came in a little black box, perhaps? He helpfully suggested an aeroplane voice recorder.
My mother in law has given up trying to buy them presents, and instead puts some money in a card. Last year, my son was overwhelmed by her generosity and made all the right noises. He should've stopped there, but instead he added as an after though: "I suppose as you are now 80 you won't be needing money for much longer." He'll be lucky to get a lump of coal this year.
The dreaded birthday party
The other big dilemma as they get older is what to do for a party.
Now that one son is turning 13 and the other is going into double figures, the cheap and cheerful pass the parcel parties of old are dismissed as being far too lame. And the very idea of a disco is met with a snort of derision.
So what to do? The eldest is keen on a sleepover, which we know has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with sleep. The last sleepover did not go well. Our next door neighbour's daughters just happened to be having a party themselves that night in their garden. But were they expecting to be pelted by Nerf bullets whilst they were trying to dance to Justin Bieber? I expect not, but that's what they got. A year later, there are still blue and orange bullets stuck in the gutter.
This year we've played a bit of a blinder and told them that as we are going away for half term the holiday will count as both a birthday present and a party.
Not sure they are buying it though. I'm guessing my youngest will do a trawl of the duty free shops at the airport, and having tried to sweet talk his way into getting something beginning with an "i", will have to make do with a large tub of Haribo and a book.
Amanda Coxen, Working Mum and Tinies Director