I have a lot of admiration for parents and for mums in particular. I can’t imagine birthing a tiny human out of your vajayjay, and then surviving the first year of that child’s life. I am well accustomed to looking after infants, toddlers and kids, but have never done this non-stop for more than a day. I am always so shattered afterwards, wondering how the heck they do it. I had also never been fully privy to the craziness that is birthday party preparation, until a couple of weeks ago.
I offered to help my sister-in-law out with planning and executing my niece’s 5th birthday party. I had fond recollections of mine; having soft drinks, a lolly scramble, a castle birthday cake. It all just seemed to magically appear and I was none the wiser of how that actually happened. Being clueless then makes me wish I was still so clueless now.
Spreadsheets, menu plans, games and decoration ideas were emailed back and forth. We were going for super fab, but simple. I was baking and decorating the cake, riding off the back of my mum and sister’s cake baking and decorating talents.
Miss nearly 5 wanted a princess theme. Sh*t.
And then she wanted a mermaid. F^*k.
Our emails went from effective cake suggestions via Google images to “Change the decos of this 5 to be a mermaid fricken playground with heaps of those fish tail b*^%#es sitting around looking pretty and doing their hair”.
We settled on a castle from the old faithful family birthday cake book, just like my 5th birthday party, and slotted into theme by having a Barbie mermaid doll on the side. I’d also found some ‘easy’ sweet treat recipes that could be added to the kid’s tables. Cups & saucers and marshmallow cones would later be renamed as ‘Pinterest fail’ and ‘Whoops!’
I arrived the day before, ready to shop, construct and share a glass of wine with my sister from another mister. What we wanted was a quick trip to town on the proviso of quickly picking up some last minute things and undergoing a stealth supermarket shop. What started well ended with the ’20 minutes tops’ allocated for the groceries, being thrown way out the window. Who knew that the ice cream cones would be randomly located under the paper towels and next to the nappies? And the Lifesavers required for the Cups & Saucers handles… we couldn’t find them to save our lives. When asking the supervisor about them, she swung us a look like we’d asked her what aisle crack was located. At the checkout we stared down at the mountain of food on the conveyer belt, carefully sideswiping ‘breaking point’ and opting for the more jovial ‘kooky hour’.
I found a Lifesaver alternative from the dairy; some bendy sherbet-filled tubes that I should’ve known better to get my hopes up for. My driver gave me a ‘we’re in for a long night ahead’ glance.
The night was documented in stages. First stage was multi-tasking dinner making and whiskey drinking; stage two, pots clanging and sugar-covered floors. At stage 4 I’d had my first sweet treat calamity when the sherbet-filled tubes did not want to fulfil the role of handle on teacup. We laughed a lot, with a threat to seal and keep that friggen cup and saucer as a trophy. Stage 5, the marshmallow cones had been dropped and fingerprinted. By stage 6, we were lovingly swearing like seadogs at the cakes and at each other. By midnight, I’d ripped that mer-Barbie out of her packaging and made her Miley Cyrus from one of the castle towers.
Bed was most welcoming that night, although I may have stuck to the bed sheets. The only time I’ll ever be sugar-coated.
In the morning the reward was clear when the kids marvelled at what had been created. All of that hard-work, laughing and cursing had culminated in the moment of delight at what had ‘magically’ happened the night before. This is where you forget your Pinterest fail moments and call a birthday party a success.