JO DAVISON: I was cheated out of a happy birthday

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Your child’s birthday means more to you than your own.

Why doesn’t mine understand that? He was 22 last week and the most important anniversary of my life - sorry, his - passed without ceremony or sentiment.

OK, I accept things have to change. That he wouldn’t have wanted all the rellies round for a party tea any more.

Though they were halcyon days... All the kids wailing in their highchairs while the adults scurried to fetch titbits for the miniature kings and queens, immobile and demanding on their thrones. Whatever they chucked on the floor, force of habit had us absent-mindedly picking up, blowing away the dog hairs and sticking in our mouths.

As my boy got bigger and more competitive, so did the parties. We had a Power Rangers one in the back room of his dad’s pub once. I talked his Auntie Ann into clambering into a set of blue and white biker leathers and matching helmet and galivanting round the room (the suit was too small for me and anyway I had pizza toppings to scrape off the carpet).

We had swimming parties and bowling parties; we took a dozen gangly eight-year-olds to Laser Quest and his dad and I did the Rambo thing in a forest with paintball guns and a load of stroppy 14-year-olds. I think I still have the bruises.

After he turned 17 the parties involved alcohol, girls being sick and wall-to-wall sleeping bags in the living room.

The last one I had to beg him for. I couldn’t let his 21st go unmarked so finally he “let” me organise a Godfather fancy dress. His dad was allowed to pay.

For every single year of his life, there had been a cake. The most memorable? The big, red tractor I fashioned out of sponge. It took ages to colour the icing; even longer to get the dye off my fingers.

It was made with pure love and half a dozen eggs, that cake, only to be showered with the spittle of eight three-year-olds competing to blow out the candles. They shoved handsful into their cake-holes with such vigour, two of them fell off their chairs. We got that on video.

The 21 years of presents? Imaginative, thoughtful and expensive don’t even cover it. The best had to be the baby lop-earred rabbit. I placed it in his hands, he stared at it and said: “Is it real?”

Last week, though, I gave in. He wanted neither fuss nor party, cake nor present from an old biddy deemed too soppy and sentimental. So I wrote the cheque and felt cheated and empty inside.