Last Saturday was my youngest daughter’s 2nd birthday. The day before said birthday I made a wholesome family breakfast, ran a marathon, travelled from the far north suburbs to the far south suburbs in search of the perfect birthday essentials, baked and decorated an amazing birthday cake, wrapped 50 presents, made myself look Hollywood glamorous and then went out to dinner with my husband, providing witty, intelligent conversation.
Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration, but that’s what it felt like. I was fairly organized (no I wasn’t!), but with my eldest daughter off sick the whole of the previous week, I had yet to sort out the most important element. The traditional Chivers family crap (er I mean spectacular) homemade birthday cake. Note here that my ambitions in the cake-making department are often far greater than my abilities, but I try! Why not buy a non-crap one from the many fabulous cake stores in Chicago I hear you cry – because it’s tradition!!!
This birthday we were going for a T.V. show character called Upsy Daisy, a cute doll looking thing with colorful hair (look her up on the BBC website). With a little time and patience it should be pretty easy.
With my eldest daughter in tow, I set off to get the things I needed for the cake and a few last minute birthday bits and pieces. We started off pretty well, but the fly in the ointment came after our stop off to buy fondant icing.
On exiting the store I rummaged around in my bag for the car keys, planning the final 3 stops and where to have lunch, because number 1 daughter was “huuuuuungry!” Like many women, my keys very often take an unwanted trip into the black hole that hides at the bottom of my bag. But it was ok, I have one of those fancy cars where as long as you have the keys on your person you can just press the button on the door, so I did. Nothing! Perhaps I needed to get closer! Nope, even pressing my entire body with bag against the car did nothing!
Now it’s only fair to say that I can have a tendency to panic in situations like this, unfortunately so can number 1 daughter. “Oh no, what are we going to do?” she cries, “we’ll never be able to drive the car again, how am I going to get to school on Monday? What if someone takes the car, my Cheetos are inside, what if they take my Cheetos? I’m sooooo hungry, what if they take my Cheetos?”
Once I managed to bring her down from the ledge by promising we would get into the car somehow and she would be fed, we took a walk around the shop retracing our steps. Actually we took a crawl around the shop. On my hands and knees, my lovely navy trousers covered in floor crud, my stomach doing nervous churns, I thought how the day wasn’t taking quite the turn I would have liked. But I still had cake ingredients to get, wrapping paper and the Sesame Street bus balloon I had promised.
At this point I can almost hear you screaming, “JUST BUY THE CAKE, SHE’S 2, SHE’LL NEVER KNOW!” But a tradition is a tradition, and besides number 1 daughter is expecting an Upsy Daisy Cake, even though it’s not her birthday.
After accepting that the keys were gone, myself and my starving, exhausted, hot number 1 daughter walked three quarters of the way home, before flagging down a cab. Spare keys retrieved, we reclaimed our car and then did a mad dash to get the final pieces we needed before the babysitter had to leave.
Now all that was to be done was to bake the cake, wrap the presents, decorate the house and get myself glammed up. Yes, in my wisdom and I had booked date night with my husband, for that very night.
So I set about creaming the butter and sugar for the cake, melting chocolate and whisking sugar syrup and egg whites for the frosting and……ok, I can’t do it any longer, I lie. I bought cake mix and pre-made frosting! But the decorating, that was all me! With a bit of ‘help’ from number 1 daughter.
Finally the cake was made and I still had time to get ready for dinner.
Despite the chaos of the previous day, number 2 daughter’s birthday couldn’t have gone better. She loved her presents, the day was dry and warm so she could go out for a ride on her new bike and she even managed to keep her birthday clothes clean long enough for me to get some beautiful pictures.
And then there was the ‘spectacular’ cake. I proudly delivered the cake to a chorus of “Happy Birthday” and placed it in front of her. “Look,” I say, “who is it?” Blank stare from number 2 daughter. “Look,” I try again, “it’s Upsy Daisy.” To which number 2 daughter turns and looks at me as if to say, “Seriously mummy? I don’t think so?”