I have to confess the cake was divine. There was chocolate everywhere, sweets galore and biscuits aplenty. It was the ultimate in chocolate biscuit cakes made by the fair tender hands of my beautifully talented 17 year old daughter, iced and assembled by my good self and devoured by the whole family. I had been gearing up to this point for weeks. Sugar Free September seemed like a rather severe dose of Lent. And the birthday of the youngest very nicely arrived slap bang in the middle, similar to an allowable break on St Patrick’s Day. And we certainly made the most of it. There wasn’t one ounce of guilt as I poured chocolate down my neck and licked my fingers in glee. It was heavenly. Even the other 17 year old (yes, they’re twins, no they’re not identical, yes it was a busy time) whose body is a temple, gave himself permission to dig right on in.
You see, the same rules don’t apply when it’s a birthday. What kind of mother would I be if I didn’t provide a cake and some fuss for a child on their birthday? Imagine if I had presented him with a lighting apple to blow out the candles on instead of a delicious and sumptuous and calorific cake? I would have to have a very serious talk with myself.
Diets and healthy living and strict food regimes are all well and good and will probably benefit us in the long run. However, there are times when other things are more important and when there’s a birthday in the house all notions we may have surrounding clean living are firmly put on hold. For all you committed clean living and seriously healthy individuals I am sure you have conquered this one in some spectacular fashion but in my house, we adore birthdays and celebrate in style. Calorific, sugar laden and delicious style. And I don’t apologise for it, unless you’re my dentist. Then I beg forgiveness.
To children, their excitement about an impending birthday has little to do with their advancing years and more to do with the attention they receive and the presents they hope to get and the celebration of their little lives. To us parents, a child’s birthday is a momentous occasion for a whole lot of other reasons. We celebrate their birthday because it represents another year that we’ve got the little dotes safely through without losing them or accidentally poisoning them or leaving them behind somewhere. So why wouldn’t we celebrate?
Now, the last thing we want to do is to bring up our children with the expectation that the world will stop and bow down before them on their birthday every year. I’m sure that there are many adults out there who quite literally take to the bed when they are not lavished with attention, balloons, presents and cake on their special day. They have grown up with the anticipation and understanding that their birthday will be celebrated in style and they expect that tradition to continue. It becomes a less realistic prospect, however, as the birthdays gather in momentum and the number of candles increase. To be honest, at this stage, we’re probably better off taking to the bed and forgetting all about it anyway. That cake and ice-cream is not so good for us anymore, our creaky knees mean that those bouncy castles are getting more and more difficult to negotiate and all we really want for our birthday is another birthday.
I know I’m not alone when I say I spend much of a normal day repeating the same orders over and over again. These include, get into the car, get out of the car, eat your breakfast, eat your dinner, do your homework, unplug the gadgets, tidy up etc. etc. There are many days when I wonder did I actually manage to say something nice during their waking hours. In the midst of the frenzied schedule did I actually manage to tell them that I love them or that I’m proud of them? There’s a fairly good chance I didn’t so that gives me all the more reason for making a special effort on their birthday and as such I have no problem justifying a bit of a fuss. Each birthday should be cherished. The years fly by so quickly and we all get to turn each age just once; unless you’re a parent when you can turn the magical age of twenty one many times or at least until your children get suspicious.
Celebrating a birthday doesn’t have to mean taking out a small mortgage. In fairness, it is rarely the gifts they remember. It is the feeling of excitement when they get out of bed, the enthusiasm surrounding them, the element of surprise throughout the day and the anticipation of being celebrated and fussed over. Different houses have different traditions. Some families throw lavish and terrifying parties filled with toddlers and teenagers all heading towards a sugar coma. Some others have quiet dinners. Some go mad with balloons, banners and brass bands. Others pore over photo albums and baby pictures. The method of celebration isn’t what matters. What matters is that the birthday child feels loved and valued. What matters is that they understand that the day they were born into the family is a day to be cherished and celebrated. Thus the slight digression from Sugar Free September to honour the birthday of the youngest child was justified, enjoyed and worth every minute of the sugar hangover. If it has made him feel valued, special and loved then I would gladly repeat the whole thing. In fact, we might anyway as that cake was totes amazeballs…