...and there's bedlam for Bug's birthday.
On Monday 8 September at 7.20am I recalled the most unforgettable day
of my life. It was exactly a year ago that Finn was born. After 365
days of anguish, exhaustion, delight and amazement, it only seemed
fitting that we should celebrate with a First Birthday Party. 'We'll
keep it small,' I said to Roxi. 'Of course,' she replied.
After going our separate ways to invite essential family and
friends we returned to tally the guest list – 38 adults and 16
children. I tried to blame Roxi. 'You invited who?' I exclaimed. 'But we haven't seen them for months!'
'We haven't seen anyone for months,' she reminded me.
Because our house is too small to swing our cats, we decided to split
the party in two. 'We'll have all the parents and kids in the morning
for tea and cake, and our child-free friends in the afternoon for
cheese and wine,' I said excitedly.
'Genius!' encouraged Roxi.
The imminent birthday party catapulted us into a childlike frenzy with
Roxi and I resolving to throw the ultimate kiddies birthday party. I
was going to bake a chocolate cake and Roxi was going to create a
magnificent masterpiece of a bug-shaped cake in honour of our son's
nickname: Finnbug. There were going to be ice-cream cone clowns with
marshmallow heads, Boudoir biscuit racing cars with jelly baby drivers,
rice crispies cup cakes and coconut macaroons – all lovingly hand baked
by ourselves. Who cared that neither of us had ever ventured into the
realm of baking before. How difficult could it be?
It was sometime during the afternoon before the big bash, having
gathered all our necessary ingredients, that we looked at our teeny
two-plate gas oven and wondered whether one could successfully bake a
biscuit in such an antiquated appliance, nevermind a cake. We decided
to do the sensible thing and take Roxi's colleague up on her offer to
make use of her Smeg oven, cake mixer and her expertise. That evening,
exhausted from all that baking and a couple of G & Ts, we collapsed
into bed resolving to ice the cakes in the morning.
We awoke after too few hours of poor quality sleep to discover that,
unsupervised, we weren't so adept at this baking thing after all. I
assured Roxi that I knew exactly how to make chocolate icing that would
work nicely as the bug's head. Roxi watched in horror as I desperately
tried to create creamy icing by mixing cocoa powder, icing sugar and
butter by hand. I remembered this trick from childhood but for some
reason the consistency seemed all wrong. I was relieved when she
finally left to buy balloons and other last-minute birthday
paraphernalia, although she was gone what seemed like a very long time.
On her return, half an hour before the guests' arrival, she found me
hyperventilating in the kitchen covered in icing sugar and whisked egg
I battled to speak. Instead I pointed repeatedly at the clock on the
wall and then again at the kitchen work station that was covered in
butter, milk and soggy dishcloths, but not one cake for the guests. But
it was the chocolate icing that got to her. The beige concoction that
contained yellow buttery lumps reduced her into a blubbering mess as
she blabbered incoherently and stomped her feet in helpless
The cake sat on the table with only its bum iced
and no face to speak of. Finn who had gotten hold of the bunch of
helium balloons was at this stage being carried quite rapidly across
the living room. He looked back at us with a pleased smile on his face.
But we were yet to see any humour in our obvious failure to
successfully throw his first birthday party.
My mother arrived 15 minutes later and managed to restore a small
amount of order by launching into the dishes while firmly ordering my
father to wipe Finn's nose and change his nappy. Roxi and I were left
to quickly down some Rescue Remedy, finish the icing before putting the
surprisingly appetising cakes on the table.
At 11am, when the first guests arrived, no hint of the former chaos
remained. Our careful plan of having two separate parties got lost
along the way as some guests lingered on for the afternoon session and
only left the party around 8pm. It was a day filled with sticky suckers
and chocolatey carpets and only the odd knock-and-wail from Finn who
otherwise continued to find the whole occasion a hoot.
while Finn has aged a year, and we feel like we've aged 10, I smile at
what has been the longest year of my life ever to have flown by.
Happy birthday baby boy. Here's to many more!