After weeks of planning, Daughter Two was having her eleventh birthday party.
A house full of school friends. Games and loud music. Enough sugar to send a Bundy farmer on a Pacific cruise.
Oh, and one other thing. There were boys.
Two in particular. The object of my precious daughter’s affections, and his mate.
You may remember me mentioning the lad in question a few weeks back. From memory, I was calm and laid back about it all. Despite suggestions to the contrary.
At least he had his shirt on this time. Unlike in that ridiculous dancing video. He had a mop of shaggy blonde hair, that was in need of a date with a brush.
He had a go at the hula hoop competition, but was no match for the girls. I almost felt sorry for him.
Defeated, he sat down to watch the others. The opportunity was too good to ignore.
In a classic military move, I came in unsighted from the right flank. No escape path.
We shook hands. He seemed tiny, and uncomfortable. I asked him about footy. He went a shade of red.
All the while, I could feel a pair of eyes burning deep into my back.
Daughter Two was watching my every move. The potential for embarrassment here was deep into the red zone.
I was trying to be cool. No boring dad stories. I didn’t even break into song. But there was a problem.
The last time I’d checked, they were about to be the Year 6 version of boyfriend and girlfriend. Everyone seemed happy. Not counting me.
I’d heard nothing more, and assumed that they were, indeed, an item. Apparently, this is something one needs to check before engaging in conversation.
The girls, all ten of them, were sleeping over. Madness, I know. But the boys were being picked up. Departure time prompted a flurry of activity from the young ladies present.
There was a rush for the door, with a squeal common at sleepovers. They were screaming things like “Don’t you have something to ask the birthday girl?”, and “You still have time!”
I was confused. Nothing unusual for a Friday evening. Until the Treasurer took me aside.
She explained that there’d been a hitch. He hadn’t asked her out yet. The girls thought he would muster enough courage by the end of the party. They were wrong.
It then dawned on me. This kid who I’d been interrogating, was only Boyfriend (pending).
The girls ran inside laughing. It was Pass the Parcel time. For just a second though, I thought I detected a hint of sadness in the eye of my beautiful daughter.
This was an outrage. What was this pint-sized cad thinking? Standing up the most eligible eleven year old in the school?
Because one of the young gum-chewing party guests had taken my comfy black chair, I pondered the situation briefly from the deck. My life till now has been about keeping boys away. Now I wanted one to come back.
I decided the best thing I could do was to go to another room and watch the footy. A sacrifice that fathers make on such nights. I hope you understand.
The rest of the party seemed to go well, apparently. Except for the girl with the allergic reaction to the guinea pigs.
I’ve been told that such matters take time. The boyfriend thing, not the allergy. Although I have given thought to training up the little critters to attack him during his next dance performance.
Daughter Two just laughed when I asked for details the following day. She said all was ok, and that I should ‘chill’. It seems the family is getting some perverse satisfaction from my suffering.
I hope he realises that this isn’t over. Fathers have long memories. He’ll have to answer my questions again one day. Just as soon as the game is over.