My daughters have this friend, a wee boy, who turned 2 last week. They were invited to his birthday party, so the usual, excitable discussions and debates ensued on what present to buy him. Youngest daughter thought the he would like something train-related, based on her own ideas of what wee boys like. So, train-related products (one of which came in a parent-pleasing 56 pieces) were purchased. While the girls set about designing the birthday card, daddy went to the local convenience store for some wrapping paper – what could possibly go awry?
Individual sheets of the stuff were on sale in a corner of the shop which isn’t exactly famed for its ergonomics. Leaning over, on one leg, my right shoulder propping the rest of me up against the ice cream freezer, I firstly had to discard the obviously pink, girly, princessy sheets, before choosing from the small selection of more ‘masculine’ designs. I decided that the football or cars options were a bit grown up for a 2-year-old and settled instead for pictures of cuddly ‘Happy Birthday’ teddy bears surrounded by stars and gifts bearing blue wrapping paper. Perfect – and anyway, even if the lad did show any form of artistic discernment, he would, like any wee boy, only tear the paper to shreds within seconds.
So the card was designed, coloured in and signed, and the present was carefully wrapped. The girls got themselves ready for the party and all was well. Until, that is, my eldest took a closer inspection of the wrapping paper her daddy had chosen.
“Look!” she piped up in shock and awe. “The teddy bear’s drinking wine!”
Obviously I laughed; surely, I thought, he’s standing near a bottle of some kind of fizzy pop? But no. Oh no. ‘Teddy’ was actually swigging from what was (now) quite obviously a bottle of alcohol. And, as if it hadn’t been clear enough to see when I first selected it, there was another bear just above him, merrily raising a frothing pint of beer in sozzled celebration. I had failed in the most extraordinarily simple of tasks.
It is now worryingly clear to me how dads through the ages have ended up with a reputation of being thick and subsequently become the butt of all their childrens’ jokes. My hope is that this episode will quickly be forgotten and won’t be the starting point of a litany of future fatherly gaffes.
Incidentally, the parents of the child in question failed to spot the unsound visual message on the paper until it was pointed out them – and only long after the birthday boy had discarded his new multi-part locomotive’s packaging. Pher-yeww.