Sunday, December 16, 2007

Life's Big To Do List

No one really thinks it will last. But try telling that to two kids who have decided they will be spending their life together and the parents who also approve of the coupling. They are just too young and inexperienced to really have such high expectations. Maybe they should see whether the relationship survives some key events; for instance, birthdays.

Apparently, birthdays can make or break any relationship not anointed by destiny. And so it is with that in mind that my son and his fiance celebrated their 7th birthday this weekend. And I can happily say that their future plans appear to have survived that event without a hitch.

Now, I know what you are thinking, back up a minute, their 7th birthday? Yes, THEIR 7th birthday. Turns out that these two were both born on exactly the same day. How totally cool is that? What is more they both have a younger sister with exactly the same name (well, it sounds the same but turns out it is spelt differently). Then add to that they are in the same class, and so when, about a year ago, she suggested that they get married when they are older, my son decided that is a good criteria. After all, what other criteria would you use?

Not surprisingly, for this years' birthdays, the first of their long engagement, they decided to have a joint birthday party -- something that I am definitely in favour of. I also saw it as an opportunity to see how it would be to deal with the potential in-laws prior to the more stressful wedding arrangements.

For reasons that I can't quite understand, they decided on a bowling party. The reason I can't understand it is that they are both bad at it but for some reason decided it was a good compromise. When it comes down to it, however, bowling parties are themselves not on the low end of stress free kids parties. They are chaotic with the added element of children hurling lethal objects around. Indeed, we had our first blood injury (my future daughter in-law's brother) just five minutes into the party. That said, the kids had fun which is apparently all that counts.

Turns out also that dealing with the in-laws was very easy. The tasks were divided, got done and the finances split. I did have a conversation with them that perhaps we should not have the wedding in a bowling alley but that the price point was excellent. There were agreements all around.

You may ask: when is the wedding likely to take place? Here is where some conflict arises -- not between families but within my own. My view is that if these crazy kids still want to get married at age 16 then I will happily sign the release. My son's mother thinks otherwise and is of the view that while she has some legal say, he will never let go. This is a source of tension between us. She argues that 16 is still too young. I point out that usually those wanting to get married at that age are being impulsive but let's face it, 10 years of engagement is hardly that! I can see many more years of this argument.

My son is quite serious about all this. On a recent holiday, he spent considerable energy shopping for jewelry. I was worried about him spending too much money. Marriage I can deal with but wasting money on precious metals is another thing. Anyhow, he did eventually settle on a friendship bracelet, that I believe both of them have lost. But it is the thought that counts.

When I look back over this, I think I am happy about this for precisely the same reason as my son is. He views selecting a future partner as something he had to do and has now done; thereby crossing a potentially annoying task off his to do list.

I feel the same way. Getting this out of the way early avoids years of frustration and uncertainty. There is so much less to worry about if this works out. I am willing to buy into that. I can see the attraction of arranged marriages for parents. They cut through annoying details. It can work well for the children too. It did so for me, but that is a story for another day.