Here is my boy on the pier in my childhood home town of Southend-on-Sea. This post commemorates his sixteenth birthday. Where has all that time gone? One minute he was a smiley babe in the arms of a mummy. For although he was the happiest little creature on Earth he rarely slept. Now he is a young man with a deep voice who towers above me as I tell him off! The misdemeanours are minor in terms of what adolescents have the potential to get up too: untidy room, mild hormonal arsiness, general tardiness. I’m sure that other parents know the kind of thing. Oh yes, and a love of his bed has replaced that sleeplessness. Weekend lie ins could go on all day if he was left to his own devices.
Kids are expensive, especially in this late stage of their schooling. Mine is no exception even though he’s not the kind of child who demands designer gear and expensive gadgets. He’s really good like that. The pace at which he’s been growing and needing replacement clothing is one example. It’s rather alarming to see the hemline of trousers bought weeks before creeping towards his calf. And shoes have been a particular nightmare. I could have kissed the colleague who gave me four pairs of her grown up son’s hardly worn trainers that were just the right size at the right time. It gave me the confidence to consider secondhand the next time replacements were needed. I did an Ebay search on used trainers, sorted them with the lowest price first option and asked my son to scroll down until he found a pair he liked. Nearly new Adidas trainers for twenty quid was the result.
For the past few years I’ve used the ‘Want, Need, Wear, Read’ principle in buying birthday and Christmas gifts. My son gets four presents from me; something he wants, something he needs, something to wear, something to read. Oh and normally I push the boat out and buy some chocolate too! It’s a great idea for reining in costs and my son is fully on board with the principle. He’ll suggest things before the big day in different categories. My heart went out to him the year that his ‘Want’ gift was a pack of gold backed playing cards that, incidentally, he still uses at school during break times. You see he’s not that grasping. What I’ve found is that ‘Wear’ label is like a sub-category of ‘Need’. Often it can be used to turn essential spending into a gift item. New footwear for those expanding plates of meat have been a case in point.
So what are the presents for his sixteenth birthday? Unfortunately this time around they don’t come that cheap. I’ve had to be resourceful. The ‘need’ present has been dictated by the catastrophic breakdown of his existing laptop just as revision for GCSEs goes into full swing. Thankfully I found a replacement refurbished one that will do the trick so savings have been made compared to a new version. The want present is the uber-cool PS 2014 lamp from IKEA. There has been a little bit of pester power over the years every time he’s gone in store and seen how the shade opens out with the pull of a string. I’ve relented, partly as we live in a port town and his existing lampshade glows red. I dread the day that there’s a knock on the door from a burly man expecting me to house ladies of the night in my attic!
Read is always simple, a £10 Amazon voucher so that my son can choose his own book. And wear this year? Well that’s really cool. It’s his prom at school in June and he’s really into steampunk. I’ve won this jacket for a tenner on Ebay for him to wear. With the help of some haberdashery it’s going to be funked up to within an inch of its life. He will be the beau of the ball.