Upside down cakes, synchronised swimming and ‘little scraps of underwear’

3 Jan

 

I know. Kind of a crazy title. Well, there’s quite a lot to explore and it has been a long while, as some of my regular readers have been reminding me… (Thanks for the prod, Shelley) 🙂

What with the end of the school year, the end of Sunny Days work for a brief few weeks and the prepartions for Christmas, I’ve had my hands rather full. There’s been lots of things that I’ve wanted to blog about, but time has been a precious commodity, with not quite enough of it for me to ramble on on my little self-indulgent rants…

So the upside down cake. That was my daughter’s fault. Poor kid. She’s too mch like her mother.

And as such, she has been organising surprise parties. Yes. In the plural. The latest of which was for her best friend from school. Lexie is moving away. Not just to another school or town, but to the other side of the world. South Africa, in fact. It might just be a tad too far to visit, so Lolly threw a party to farewell her in style.

For those not in the know, Lolly is just nine years old. She’s a kind-hearted, generous girl with very good organisational skills, except when it comes to organising her personal belongings in her own bedroom. But that’s another story…

The date for the party was set. The teachers were all clued in. The food allergy notices, Muslim dietary requirements and the food pyramid had all been taken into consideration. Every body was bringing something to eat, the money had been collected for the gift and the card had been signed. Lol was barely able to sleep, she was so excited. It was the night before, and this Mummy had been frantically orgainising lots of other elements of family life. All that remained to be done was to cook a cake. As I headed out to bookclub- I told you I was busy- I left out the recipe and the ingredients for a banana cake, her favourite. Daddy was coerced charmed into cooking the cake and everything was falling into place nicely. How prophetic those words were to be…

The next morning, we whipped some cream and decorated the cake with Lexie’s name and chocolate shavings and it looked amazing. Lolly was fair to burting out of her skin she was so flushed with excitement. We loaded the car with all the bags, hats, food, gifts and children for the trip to school. It was probably just an accident waiting to happen, but I let Lol carry the cake to the car.

It didn’t end well.

As I locked the house, I heard the shrill scream. Followed by the stunned silence of disbelief. And then partenered of course with the balling tears of a nine year old who had just totally lost it.

The cake had fallen, upside down- freshly whipped creamy topping first- onto the passenger seat of the car. Frustration, disbelief and the memory of an incident years before when a milk carton had spilled in the car in stinking hot curdling rancid January ran through my mind in jut a millisecond. Did I mention the fact that we were running late and I had to get to work?

I’d like to say that I was calm and encouraging, not bothered at all by the mess and wasted effort of the once pristine but now hairy and gritty cake. I’d like to, but I can’t. I let loose an unearthly yet strangely familiar groan/bellow/yell of frustration and “You can’t be SERIOUS!!!!”

My little organiser was falling apart before my eyes. Her longed for party was now, in her eyes, an abject failure, represented by the pile of squished cake and cream on the front seat of our car. All her plans and hopes of a touching farewell celebration were crushed, by that one, single albeit messy incident.

Somewhere deep inside me the wise maternal element was belatedly awoken. I grabbed my daughter and let her sob, trying to reassure her that it would be ok. We could clean up the seat- and if it started to smell, well, so be it. We’d lived with the sour milk smell before, we could do it again. The image of people ‘falling apart’ is used so often, but it really did feel like I had to gather all her broken bits of self-esteem and glue them all back together again, and fast! My reaction to the incident was crucial in how she would remember this mistake in the years to some.

 

It gave us a great opportunity to talk about life and it’s inevitable stuff-ups. It’s not if we make mistakes or not, but how we react to them and learn from them that counts. If our kids never get to experience those disasters, they don’t get to think on their feet and relaise that it’s really ok to mess up and that we can usually fix things up somehow anyway. It’s not a fun lesson, often it’s messy in lots of different ways, but the lesson was a poignant one all the same.

Thankfully, in our enthusiasm we’d whipped too much cream earlier that morning, so we grabbed the bowl from the fridge, mopped up the mess as best we could and with now only a slight hiccup or two from the child who moments before was hysterical, we drove to school.

I’m incredibly thankful for the terrific teachers at our school. Far from dismissing my daughter from the staff-room with a quick ‘you’ll be fine’, their sympathy was touching as they related their own culinary disasters. Her red rimmed eyes and still-swollen top lip from crying probably helped garner their support, but they willingly scraped off the top of the cake and replaced it with the fresh cream we’d brought, as I dashed to work, confident she was in the hands of people who would look after her emotional as well as her educational well-being.

The farewell surprise party went without any other hitches. The kids ate heaps, gave Lexie her card and gift and she was suitably farewelled from our little school. It was another success to chalk up to Lolly’s event planning career. And another learning curve for her, and for me.

NB Due to the length of this ramble, the synchronised swimming and little scraps of this titled piece will have to wait for another installment. Stay tuned!

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One Response to “Upside down cakes, synchronised swimming and ‘little scraps of underwear’”

  1. Fiona McKay January 3, 2011 at 6:13 am #

    And Lexie was extremely thankful for a wonderfully planned party, just for her! And Connor had a good time too. It’s good to hear the background story to it all! We obviously missed out on all the action beforehand. We’ll miss you all! I think I’d better stop putting exclamation marks!

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