Call Kiefer. I’ve got a new story line for 24. This one will promise pace, action, and all the stress you could possibly want. Did I mention danger? Just try stepping into my kitchen over the next day or two … Forget kevlar: Jack Bauer had best wear his favourite pinny.
See, I’ve got the flu. Well not really. I had influenza a couple of years back and this is not it. This is, however, quite bad enough thanks. Life has been less than lavish. Bits of my face are there that ought not to be and I’ve been coughing so hard it makes me giddy. Not in a girlish, happy kind of way. Everything aches. The room is too hot, no, too cold, no, too hot…
Anyway, I’m grumpy. The timing could hardly be worse. Lydia turns 5 this weekend. I have already ruined her last week at kindergarten by being unable to show to do Tuesday’s star cookie baking session (to tie in with the children’s Matariki celebrations).
I spent most of the preceding Monday night worrying that I wouldn’t be well enough to perform. And guess what? I would be, beyond any possible redemption, a really, really bad mother. I was letting down my Lydia. Between school and kindy, I’d done four cooking sessions with her big sister. Lydia would think I didn’t love her as much, she would suffer middle child angst in life-changing proportions. Yes, one batch of cookies can have that much power.
Well, in the end we figured it wouldn’t hurt for Lydia to delay her school start for one day to allow one last cookie inclusive kindy Tuesday. Crisis averted. Temporarily.
But it took until Thursday to be well enough to contemplate a trip out for essential supplies. Today is Friday and I have exactly 24 hours and 36 minutes to pull a Garden Fairy Princess birthday party from nowhere. And believe me, these babies do not make themselves.
Let’s bypass the self-recriminations about the stuff I could have made and frozen weeks ago but didn’t because I thought there was plenty of time. (Grrrrrrrrrrr) Let’s not even talk about the parents that have not R.s.v.p.ed to my admittedly late invitations, leaving me with no idea how many dinky little cupcakes and treat bags I need. (Grrrrrrrrrrissimo)
There is the special request toadstool birthday cake. I’m cool with that, but apparently this one needs to be rainbow coloured within. Not in layers you understand. Just within the one cake. (No, I stand corrected. That was last week. Now it is to be pink and strawberry flavoured with multi-coloured sprinkles throughout, and thank goodness for small mercies, except that now I can’t bake the blasted thing without another shopping trip.)
There are to be ladybird crackers, little canape that look like baby toadstools, snail-shaped cheese pastries and butterfly cookies. Sausage rolls and flower cupcakes, glittery ones. Then, as the birthday girl is a garden fairy princess, there are the costumes, table decorations, lanterns, streamers, treat bags, all that kind of thing.
Has Lydia demanded it? No. She would like the cake and the butterfly cookies, but like most persons her age, as long as there is a potato chip and some sticky icing in the offing, her needs are met.
There are the pictures she has seen on my Pinterest board. But who put them there? I did.
Did Lydia buy and devour the Donna Hay kids edition each year for the last 6 or 7 years? No, though the girls do like looking at the pictures after Mummy is done. Does she troll through Martha Stewart on-line looking for cute touches? No. That would be me.
And would I think less of any parent who ordered in pizza and chips? No. Do I look down on parties had at bowling allies and skating rinks? Certainly not.
So why? Because in a life where I constantly wish I could do more and better for my children, there is that one special day that is all theirs. Because cooking is one particular medium through which generations of women have expressed love for their families. And because, as my mate Maryanne Cathro says, one of the best things you can hope to leave your children is a stash of good memories to see them through the sometimes dark days of adulthood.
So, once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…