My ex dropped off an armload of presents yesterday for the kids to give me on my birthday.
It was a nice gesture. Our marriage crashed and burned, but he tries to do the right thing post separation.
He did the same when my dad ended up in hospital twice following his recent heart attack, dropping everything to help with the kids while I dashed up to Newcastle.
He didn’t even mention the special plans he had to ditch, I only heard about them second-hand from friends.
If the situations were reversed, I would do the same for him, because it’s the right – and kind – thing to do.
I worry that we don’t care about doing the right or kind thing these days. We’ve become permanent teenagers who only think about “me, me, me.”
We think it’s OK to say nasty things on social media, with no regard for the hurt they might cause someone.
We often don’t care about the hurt we might cause in real life either – hence the rise and rise of Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson and their ugly, protectionist policies.
At the other end of the scale, I’ve been dwelling (a bit too much) on a casual cruelty that occurred in my own little world recently.
Three weeks ago, the youngest and I sent out seven carefully chosen invitations to her birthday. Those invites were awesome, and a little pricey, but I figured we were only inviting a small group so we might as well lash out.
I told the youngest she couldn’t invite any more kids as there wasn’t enough room in our cars to transport them to the venue.
She planned seven special party bags for her guests, sitting in her bedroom carefully putting trinkets and lollies in them each night as the goodies arrived in the mail.
The weeks went past and we didn’t hear back from three of the mums. I had to hunt down their phone numbers and chase them via text and voice message. One said yes, two said no. One, after intially ignoring my messages, didn’t even offer an excuse for why their daughter couldn’t come.
What bothered me was that they didn’t bother to send a quick message weeks ago, when they knew their kid couldn’t make it.
And now, five days before the party, it’s too late to invite anyone else and those two extra goodie bags are hurting my heart on the kitchen bench.
I know I should let it go, it’s such a small thing that I’ve build out in my head like Meccano, but I don’t understand why a mum wouldn’t think about the effect her lack of reponse would have on a soon-to-be 11 year old’s big day.
How would they feel if it was their child?
I think I’ve taken it to heart because it’s probably the last “kid” birthday party I’ll organise. The youngest will be in high school next year and beyond such childish things as party bags.
I’ve loved organising the parties over the past decade or so. They’ve been a blast.
That’s what I should be dwelling on – the happy memories, not the casual indifference of strangers.
Song of the day: Crowded House “Mean to me”