Want to give your child’s birthday party a touch of hysteria? Try to break the toilet before it starts | Parents and parenting

Jhe first warning sign was probably the creaking of the toilet seat that morning, proof that it had come loose from its moorings and was well separated from the base of the toilet. Closer inspection revealed that the seat was secured by a single screw, giving every sedentary moment on our toilet alone a nice new feature; the relaxing, meditative feel of Charlie Brown rolling down a snowy hill on an upturned plateau.

Another layer of doom descended an hour later when an unedifying crack reverberated inside the cistern as I turned the toilet handle. A look under its lid revealed that the plastic end piece that connects the lever to the handle had, conveniently, snapped in half.

It would have been boring at best. The fact that this happened 45 minutes before the start of my son’s birthday party sent me into an almost zen-like state of stress. It was, I decided, very much like how Nasa should have felt during the Apollo 13 mission if Houston was filled with Spider-Man buntings and balloons.

Soon I was on the streets of Walthamstow, chasing any hardware store that could help me. Of the four in my neighborhood, one was closed and two others had gone out of business. Before I could say “the death of the main street”, I was face to face with the sympathetic owner of my last and only hope, who told me that her store did not sell plumbing supplies, but that she had superglue. As I had spent the whole race carrying the broken component in my hand, like a child offering vegetables in the hope that an adult could cut them for me, I glued it back together in one piece while holding it. firmly in place for the rest of my ride home.

I had barely noticed the snap he made at the first turn of the handle when the doorbell rang to announce the arrival of the first of our guests. I met them with hugs, smiles and a quiet lecture about how we now flush the toilet in this part of the world by leaning over the bowl and dipping our hands into the cistern to manually operate a metal lever suspended in lukewarm water. They received this warmly, as any dear friend will when you greet them by immediately addressing the fact that they don’t give a shit.

I am delivering this address several times over the next few hours as more and more people arrive and have a rude expectation to be able to use our restrooms. Was I subjected to multiple rounds of Wildean puns based on the inevitable effects of the shiitake mushroom tortillas I made? Did I regret designing and cooking an all-vegetarian black bean and chili taco feast? Who’s to say? We all make choices in this life.

Luckily my son was oblivious to all of this and spent the afternoon delighted with cakes, pizzas and the feverish ecstasy one gets from giving presents, drinking sugar and hosting a dozen fellow students. game. As I heard her laugh to tears, at the sight of her exhausted, blindfolded father attempting to pin a horn on a wall-mounted triceratops, I felt fulfilled. Happy, for the first time that day, to have made such a big noise.

Did you hear Mammy die? by Séamas O’Reilly is available now (Little, Brown, £16.99). Buy a copy of guardianbookstore at £14.78

Follow Séamas on Twitter @shockproofbeats

Joseph K. Bennett