12/06/2004
 
It was Harri’s first birthday yesterday. In case you’re not an Uncle, let me just tell you that this is a very important event. I thought long and hard about my present, especially when I realised I might not be in the same country as Harri on his birthday for quite a few years to come.

Harri loves it when you spin things for him - phones, TV remotes, Harri – so I thought I’d buy him a spinning top. I went to a lovely toy shop called Tiddley Pom where they had a selection of good quality toys. You could tell they were good quality because they were very expensive. That’s how you tell.

There were a range of tops – free standing ones, others with toys inside that rattled round as they spun. I decided on a medium sized one with ducks painted on which made a humming noise. They wrapped it real nice because it’s called Tiddley Pom and they have quality toys.

The birthday party was at my sister’s apartment complex. Her flat is brand new but small so luckily there was an extra communal room big enough to fit the thirty or so people. Apart from me, the Uncle, there was Holly (the Mother), Ma (who will not be called Grandmother, so we have coined the phrase Old Ka Ka instead. Since we made up the name someone told us that Ka Ka in Moari means poo), my sister (the Aunt) and her boyfriend, Ryan (the Dad) his brother (another Uncle) and their Mum (Gran) - plus friends. Oh, and Harri.

We’ve been singing Happy Birthday to Harri for weeks now so that he doesn’t get scared. He loves it. He whoops when you begin and claps his hands and sings along. At the end he pumps his little fists in the air. After we’d sung Happy Birthday for the seventh time, Holly decided to open presents.

These are a selection of the gifts: A working dump truck with lego-like bricks, a crazy dash board with lights and noises and a little vibrating man that made Harri giggle, another truck with real sound, a toy telephone with lights and buzzers and shit, and – get this – a toy turn table, with beats and crazy noises and effects – and of course flashing lights. The party had become a friggin’ laser show.

Whose present was opened next? That’s right. The spinning top was ripped open. It looked smaller than I remembered. No one said ‘what does it do?’ but I know that people were thinking it. My sister pumped the handle, god bless her, but it didn’t really work on carpet. ‘It makes a humming noise,’ I said when she gave up and opened another truck with realistic sounds and flashing lights.

After we’d cut the cake and sung Happy Birthday again (that kid was sure milking it) Holly came up to me.

‘Thanks for the spinning top,’ she said. ‘It’ll probably be the only thing I let Harri play with. Some of those other toys are going to drive me crazy.’

‘It hums a bit,’ I said quietly, as she patted me on the arm.
 

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