The Worst Birthday Present Ever

Tomorrow is my birthday. I’ll be 29. I considered having a crisis about it, but decided I was too tired for all that. Instead, I chose to make myself La Bete Noir, let the Ogre make steaks for dinner, and be cheerful in spite of the fact that it’s supposed to be cloudy and rainy all day.  I was feeling pretty mature about that, too, until last night.

Last night, a power surge somehow defeated our surge protector and, like Zeus with his lightning bolt, vanquished our computer.

We have lots of writing saved on there. Lots and lots. But since the Ogre had the foresight to buy me my Jesus laptop and he has a laptop provided by AMU, this won’t be a total catastrophe if our hard drive can be saved.


Except, we’re one of those families that doesn’t own a TV because the Ogre has ideals about our kids being able to read or think or something, and I acquiesce because I find it a handy evasive rebuttal to pediatricians who ask me how many hours of TV my kids watch per day. “We don’t have a TV.” Boom. Shuts the pediatricians down and wins me brownie points, and I don’t have to go to confession afterward.

Obviously, I solve the dilemma of “how to parent without a babysitter TV” by using our computer as a TV. But now, the computer hath eaten it.

Oh, did I mention that Charlotte and Liam are sick? Not just a little sick, but full-on fever, croupy hacking coughs, misery slathered in Vicks wrapped in blankets sucking down clear liquids sick? Also, I’m sick too, with a recurring case of bronchitis which my asthma is making super fun.

I went to sleep last night trying to psych myself up to embrace this new era of motherhood wherein television would be an occasional treat instead of a daily staple. Then I spent all morning trying to see if Amazon carries TV/DVD combos that I can afford with the birthday money my parents sent me. I mean, how am I supposed to handle sick days with no TV? Or rainy days? Or Tuesdays?

Here’s how the Ogre responded when I asked him that:

He doesn’t seem to think this is a serious problem. But this is what I’ve been doing since he left for work:

Note to the weather gods: this is the worst birthday present ever. This is like the inversion of a gift. It’s a negative gift. You have literally detracted happiness, Mad Men, and Doctor Who from my life.

Maybe I will have a crisis, after all.


  • HeathersHodgepodge

    Public libraries often have a variety of DVDs that patrons can check out. You might want to check there before you spend your birthday money…

    • Kate Alva

      Except she has nothing to play them on…

  • Kate Alva


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  • Michele Chronister

    Does your laptop have access to the internet? has a bunch of cute and wholesome videos that run on playlists…so, in other words, you just open up the video section, pick your show, and it’ll play for an hour or more.

  • Maggie Crawford


  • Amelia Bentrup

    Can they watch on your laptop? We watch netflix, amazon prime, etc. on ours all the time. Of course, I realize this ties up the laptop, but it might help a little bit. My kids don’t even know that people can watch TV on like a TV…we do everything on the laptops.

  • Cordelia

    Umm… Audio books? Downloaded on the laptop, or borrowed from library, or – ask every single one of your children’s loving relatives to record themselves reading a picture book (a LONG picture book), then send you recording and book? (Wish we were neighbours – I’d give you the run of our growing collection!)

    Oh, dear. What a bad birthday… Too bad it’s not Lent or something -’cause BAM! you’d have it covered in just this one week!

    And I found turning 29 really weird. I had two kids, with a third on the way, and a seven-year wedding anniversary coming up. But somehow I didn’t feel like I’d ever really figured out how to be twenty-something – if that makes any sense. Instead I was facing 30 still thinking, “Gosh, am I *really* all grown-up?” My 30′s have been so much easier…in all manner of ways. Well, except for discovering that I have NOT after all inherited the “no-gray-hairs-till-you’re-65″ gene with which so many women in my family have been blessed. Sigh. So I’m going to pull them out discreetly till I’m 40. Otherwise, being thirty-something rocks.

    • Cordelia

      But, hey, HAPPY BIRTHDAY anyway!

  • Manny

    Oh I hope you and the children feel better. I don’t know what my wife and I would do without the TV as a babysitter. We have a three and a half year old. Plus he’s learned a lot of language on those kid’s shows that go beyond our household speech. I’m not convinced that children’s programming is bad TV for children. I think they’re wrong on that.
    I didn’t care to turn thirty when I did, but my real existential crises came when I turned forty. Yikes, that’s when you realize it’s half over.

  • Jane Curl Duquette

    I was going to suggest CHOCOLATE but I just read the recipe for your birthday cake and you have that covered. You might want to check the library for the CD’s of classical kids. Mine liked Tchaikovsky Discovers America and Beethoven lives upstairs. Look at at

  • ben no

    I remember once I got a fancy box of chocs with two layers – one was milk choc and the other dark choc, all good and nice in their appearance, accept they were only going terribly out of date. I don’t know how my friend missed that one.