I nearly bought a goat last week, but my youngest talked me out of it.
Wandering into the living room - no doubt considering how to persuade me to ‘fess up where I’d stashed the Oreo cookies - he caught me studying my phone and asked what I was doing - not expecting the answer I gave.
“Woah. Are you talking animal goat, or are you talking like G.O.A.T ?” he asked, in that exact age-specific tone of 15 year old.
“Animal goat. What other kind of goat is there?” I replied.
He snorted. “Sometimes you’re a bit out of touch, Mom”
“Most of the time, probably.” I said, browsing a lovely selection of goats on my phone.
“And is there some reason we should be getting a goat?” he asked - way too judgmentally.
“Absolutely!” I replied doing my best to sound intellectually superior. “They give you milk and uhm mohair and uhm… other stuff”
His eyes narrowed. “Is this for Dad’s birthday?”
I said nothing.
“You know, you could just get him a hat or some pairs of socks?
“We get him that every year?”
“That’s what he likes. And also, no we don’t. Last year we got him a bee hive. ”
“Exactly.” I said “ And he loves it. So I thought this year maybe he would like a goat. Goats are fabulous. And I just got this message about some goats that need rescuing as their owner is moving, so they’re selling them off really cheap. Dad could get a goat and socks and maybe a hat as well.”
My youngest stood beside the sofa, saying nothing. ( Honestly, even though he’s my child and I love him, it was pretty annoying - him just standing there was taking all the joy out of flicking through photographs of lovely goats on my phone.)
“The Oreos are in the yellow tub in the cupboard next to the oven,” I said.
“Good, thanks,” he said and continued to stand there.
I sighed and put down my phone. “What?”
“Do we have room for a goat?” he asked
“Probably. Maybe.” I said, trying to sound intellectually superior.
“Do we have room for two goats though, because goats don’t like to be on their own? Look it up. They get unhappy on their own. ”
I did a quick search on goat happiness and goddamit he was right. Bloody goats and their social neediness. One goat would be a push. Two goats impossible. And it doesn’t matter what the occasion is, you can’t own an animal if by doing so that animal would suffer. It has to be win-win for you and the animal both.
I heaved a huge defeated sigh.
“They have hats and socks and stuff at Target. ” my youngest said, “And also a good return policy, which is helpful when you’re buying for Dad.”
I nodded assent. Goat crisis averted - my youngest went off to raid the Oreo stash.
My husband Mark is a wonderful wonderful human, but he notoriously shit at birthdays. He struggles finding the right present for anyone because he wants it to be perfect, but he’s picky so nothing really is perfect, and so present buying is not one of his stronger points.
But his own birthday is the worst because he’s quite happy just being regularly contented throughout the year. So, the idea that he has to find more happy for one day of the year, when he’s already quite happy enough as it is, ties his head in knots.
Mark is three years younger than me. We met when I was 35 and he was 32 and both our birthdays are in April. It wasn’t long before the birthday thing became clear. Though he would stress about getting me the absolutely right thing for my birthday, he really couldn’t be bothered remembering anything about his - including his own age. So the year I was 38, I just told him he was 38 too. When he turned 38 for three years running, it dawned on him. He felt a little cheated that he ‘never got to be 36 or 37’ and has resolutely kept a marker on his own age from then on.
And he does now in fact have a method of dealing with birthdays. Mostly he tries to ignore them hoping they might go away, and then has a last minute panic.
I am his polar opposite. Ooh I do like a birthday. I like the cakes and the candles and the bad singing and the presents, but mostly I love the excuse for letting people know that you love them. It doesn’t have to be expensive - and in fact most of the time I prefer it when it’s not. It’s best of all when it involves a wee bit of daftness.
Over the years we’ve learned to find a happy medium - or at least remind ourselves that a happy medium is the goal. I have to remind myself that each person is allowed to celebrate their birthday the way they want to, and he has to remind himself that birthdays do exist. The only time it becomes really tricky is when it’s his birthday.
I don’t want him to have a lovely birthday just because I like birthdays. I want him to have a lovely birthday because he’s a really wonderful man.
After my discussion with Lachlan though, I realized that this year, I wasn’t sticking to my side of the bargain. So I took the bull by the horns and brought up the B word with Mark and asked him what he really wanted to do.
Turns out he wanted home made burgers and fries, and maybe a cake and just hanging with the four of us, and that for him that was special enough.
So, while Mark pottered about in the goat free backyard, the boys and I went to Target and bought a selection of men stuff that may be worn or may not be worn. - But that's ok because - as Lachlan reminded me - Target has a fabulous return policy.
It was a lovely birthday. Laid back and easy, and dare I say, happy. (possibly apart from when he was modeling a new hat, and I said he looked good for 58 and he eyed me and stated, most pointedly, that he knew exactly what age he was.)
I didn't buy a goat. I did order a bat box from Amazon though.
Lachlan eyed it lying amongst the pile of Target gifts.
“What's that for?” he asked.
His eyes narrowed. “Ok. So, are you buying bats?” he asked way too suspiciously for a 15 year old.
“No you don't buy bats, they're just around.” I smiled. “I got them this house in case they want to move in.”
“Why do you want bats?”
“Dad likes bats. They eat mosquitoes.”
He nodded, dare I say it faintly impressed. “Cool,” he said.
I guess the thing about birthdays is that whatever way you do it, the point is it’s a celebration of you. So, if it was your birthday recently, or if it’s your birthday soon, may it in some way be a reminder that the world is so very glad you’re here.
And also, just so you know, I know a place where you can get goats. Really nice goats. Though obviously it’s a two goat minimum.
Till next week. xo
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Well hello there
On reflection I am sort of relieved about the goat. I do
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