Middle Class Problems: Being asked to be a godparent

 

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Nobody ever thinks of the poor godparents; the weight of expectation bestowed upon them to guide a child, the vague whispers of taking a godchild on as their own in the event of a death. And it's impossible to say no. It's considered a direct insult to a friend. Not even Elton John can say no. He's got 10.

The parents, naturally, expect a sage guide who will call in on a Saturday morning to treat the children to macaroons and chocolat chaud before a whizz around an improving local exhibition; gifts, meanwhile, will be frequent, made from wood and wrapped in expensive ribbon. Hence the loaded surprise when the children are returned home buzzing from refillable Cokes and jabbering about Despicable Me 2.

At first, it's all delightful for both godparents and children; picnics with hampers full of engraved crockery at the end of long walks with the beloved tots. But as time passes, things slip. Presents twice a year sent directly from Amazon. A trip to Pizza Express to talk about someone called Elsa. The odd outing to the cinema when a hyperactive 10-year-old will blissfully raise not a peep for two hours.

But here's an idea. Perhaps godparenting should feel less an obligation, more fun. For the child, the godparent is, after all, the welcome break from domestic routine; from snack embargoes and restricted TV. Maybe the way to be a good godparent is to put the power back into the hands of the child, to give them what they want, and consequently to treat visits as one long bender throughout their childhood…

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