Do you do as David did? Ignore all pleas of this new present being the "bestest ever present ever" and extol the virtues of the present already bought and wrapped and hiding in the Cupboard At The Top of The Stairs?
Do you do as Auntie Ivy did? Bang on and on about "kids today having too much bleeding choice, my God, when I was his age I was bloody grateful if I got a couple of sweets and the unbroken chair to sit on"?
Or do you do as I did? Ring my sister in a state of panic, feeling like the Worst Mother In The World and have to listen to her hoot with laughter at my predicament?
Imagine my shock on Thursday evening when, just before bedtime, Mac chortled with laughter at this advert and declared "That's what I want for my birthday mummy!". He meant, of course, Aleksandr, star of said advert and would not be swayed. "He's not real!" I said heartily as we made our way upstairs. Cue look from Mac who said in a pitying tone of voice "Of course he is mummy, he's on the telly!"
The desire to own a meerkat did not abate on Friday morning and, on the way home from school that afternoon, I was a little concerned at the amount of comments Mac was receiving about his forthcoming birthday present. These included "Oh, you're so lucky! My mum won't even let me have a rabbit!" and "What are you going to call him?" Clearly my child had informed his entire class that I was spending the day mooching for meerkats.
Friday evening saw me ringing round assorted friends and family for help and advice. Four of them were incredibly unhelpful but Charlie played an absolute blinder. "Adopt one" she said. Result! There are many reasons why I love Charlie and this is just one of them, she has turned thinking out of the box into an art form! Bea was equally impressed but not for long as she had to go off and "look for something online darling".
On Saturday morning I told Mac that Auntie Charlie had found him a meerkat ("sourced" as Bea would say). "Wow, thank you!" he beamed and did a little breakdance a la Cruz Beckham. "Can I cuddle it now mummy?" he asked, peering into the garden as if the meerkat was waiting for him by the clump of daffodils just sprouting up by Becks' hutch. "Erm no, he won't be here but we can visit him where he lives!" I said, shoving a bowl of Cheerios under his nose and envisaging spending a fortune in zoo entrance fees.
He didn't take the news very well. "You spoil that child" David said ominously as he went off to explain to Mac that meerkats don't like Nunhead and prefer the rarified air of Regent's Park. After ten minutes, they both returned, one looking slightly mollified, the other looking very worried. "Can I see him soon though please mummy?" asked the nearly-birthday-boy. I assured him he could and breathed a sigh of relief. David took me to one side and whispered "He asked me if meerkats could get on buses, he may well try and liberate one when you take him to the zoo to see it". Note the use of the word "you".
Saturday afternoon is best glossed over. Suffice to say I came out of the cinema with a headache and a desire never to visit ever again. Mac and I were both in bed by half past eight.
Sunday morning and a chorus of Happy Birthday and lots of phone calls for the birthday boy, including one from Charlie who was asked if she could "bring my meerkat" to his party. She fudged it very well and said that the meerkat sent his best but was busy. His other presents went down very well including the present liberated from the Cupboard At The Top of The Stairs that had Janey screaming and reaching for her mirror. "Oh my dear God Mac, I've run out of straightening serum!"
The cake, supplied by Auntie Ivy, was yummy and the birthday boy himself was heard to say it was the bestest one he's ever had in his "whole life". Bestest present ever though was from Bea - it hasn't left his side since Sunday and I had to promise to look after him while he was at school today. I was then cross examined on our way home about "his" day. I've now researched properly the likes and dislikes of meerkats after my "lie" about him having porridge for breakfast was uncovered. "He doesn't eat porridge mummy" Mac said with a snort of derision.