A recent column for Wokingham Today:
We went Christmas tree shopping this weekend. I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic at first as I find decision-making tiresome and knew this could end up being a rather drawn out process. But I didn’t want to dampen my partner’s eager inner-child, so we all went along to stare at trees together as a family. (I also had the mild concern that he might actually return with the ten footer he’d joked about, should he be left to conquer any indecisiveness alone.) After all, tree selection requires quite a bit of consideration, there’s a lot to it. There’s height and shape, weight distribution, colour, the odd bent branch at the top that you can’t help but notice. Some trees look evenly balanced, others seemed slightly wonky. There was lots of tree spinning and “imagining what it might look like” in various corners of our home. After some wandering and quiet contemplation, we got it down to two. One rather sweet, short and plump tree and one taller, more equally distributed one. It began to rain and I was getting cold so I pushed for the larger tree. Go big or go home and I just desperately wanted to get home. So we did both.
From one important decision to another, we were finally able to register Leo’s birth a few weeks ago. Though we very nearly missed it due to traffic and bad planning. Thank you to Joan at the Reading Registry Office for letting us in 25 minutes late. It was a stressful twenty minutes crawling down the London Road, made better only by documenting the scene on my Instagram stories. Several people took a genuine interest in whether we’d made it to the appointment. Then there was the last minute panic as to whether to stick with Leo or stretch to Leonardo on his birth certificate. I had this panic in front of the registrar.
“Well it’s not locked in yet…” she said kindly, completely unperturbed.
“Do you get this a lot? People changing their minds at the last minute?” I asked, knowing her likely answer but specifically wanting the reassurance that I wasn’t the only dithering indecisive parent to walk through her doors.
“Oh yes” she replied, grinning.
I felt comforted, but still rather ridiculous. Who walks into a registry office not being crystal clear on what exactly they’re putting on the paper? Me, actually, the first time we tried to register Maia’s birth. The whole affair was very much a result of poor communication. Her father and I thought we’d agreed on what our daughter’s surname would be. It later transpired we very much hadn’t. So when the gentleman asked and we each had different responses, which we then tried to clarify right then and there in the room, he said, in the nicest of ways, that it would probably be better if we came back another time. I was mortified. And fuming. We walked downstairs to meet my Dad (our chauffeur, neither of us had a driving licence at this point) and asked if he could possibly bring us back in a fortnight when we’d agreed on our baby’s name. Years later I asked my Dad if he was annoyed having to drive us back and forth. He replied that he found it all “rather amusing”.
Back to November 2020, another registry office, another last minute debate. Though thankfully this time no audible negotiations in front of the registrar. This was between me and me, all inside the comfort of my own head. Part of me wanted to be a bit out there, just for the official record. But another part knew I was connected to the name “Leo” and felt nothing whatsoever for “Leonardo”. It’s a beautiful name, more elaborate, more exciting; but it wasn’t my son’s name. We stuck with Leo. It felt right.