It’s two days until this little light of mine turns two. And the consensus (particularly on Pinterest) seems to be that the best way to let your little light shine when they reach the age of two is to throw him or her an incredible birthday party.
And fundamental to the incredible-ness of the party is the theme. This should be based on something that your little light just loves. If that’s a character from popular culture, even better. Colours can work as well, as long as they’re either pink or blue, and are used responsibly (no pink for boys, please).
Once you’ve picked your theme, the rest is easy. All you’ve got left to do to make the party absolutely incredible is to hire someone to make a cake plus a few trays of cupcakes that reflect the theme (or bake it yourself if you’re a professional baker or chef), make the bunting, put together the party packs in accordance with the theme for the other little lights to dig into at the party, make their take-home party packs, and make at least two visits to your local party shop/plastics-and-or-glass warehouse/packaging goods warehouse/online party store to purchase mason jars (for drinks, obvz), paper straws, paper plates, serviettes, tablecloths, streamers and banners to bring your theme through to every element of the party. Of course, the professional photographer will know exactly how to capture the little flags you stick into the cupcakes and the handwritten names you’ve glued onto the party packs so that even people who weren’t on the 30-strong guestlist will be able to see how much work you’ve put into everything and what a supermom you are; and even though that’s definitely not the reason for these little touches in the first place, it’s nice to get some recognition.
I’m not even going into the entertainment factor – because of course you’ll have hired the jumping castle and will have arranged for different game/activity stations all around different parts of your house and garden. You’ll probably also have custom-made a treasure hunt, because that’s incredible fun and has never led to any frustration or tears (in parents or their progeny), ever.
It’s a piece of cake, really. Cake without any nuts or sugar or eggs or dairy, it goes without saying. And all the planning and preparation and shopping is just going to make you so happy that you won’t even care if things don’t go off properly, or kids rub buttercream icing into your carpet or pour their mason-jar freshly squeezed fruit juice in-between your couch cushions, or don’t want to play games and would rather sit on their mom’s laps and eat everything in their take-home party pack because actually they’re only two years old, and your little light bursts into tears and refuses to blow out her special themed candles on her special themed cake because she’s a bit scared of all the people crowding around her because actually she’s only two years old … because the late-night cutting and sticking and baking and wrapping and lunch-breaks spent trawling through shop after shop to find Princess-themed items in the exact nuance of princessiness have just made you so unbearably happy in and of themselves.
But none of this applies if you are like me, and:
a) have a child who loves many things but nothing in particular, and certainly nothing that fits into a prepackaged idea of what a two-year-old girl should like – who loves cars and guitars and trucks and bikes and bunnies and dolls and hats and birds and cats and Rastamouse and lights and pinecones and stars and hearts and trees and swings and honey and buttons and cuddles and chairs and balls and other people’s eyelashes.
b) want to get in one last birthday party that your child won’t remember, in other words, a party that’s a way of celebrating with your child’s father that you made it through the baby years with some degree of aplomb and to drink too much champagne in the company of all your doting relatives who can babysit your child while you are drinking said champagne.
c) believe that the fewer other children the better at birthday parties, and if you can’t get that number down to zero, at least make sure that there are no more children at the party than there are number of years in your child’s age.
d) hate shopping and also crafts.
But I do love baking. I’m not entirely without value as a mother. I’m baking these cookies and also these, and these cupcakes, and my mother-in-law is making her carrot cake as the birthday cake, and my arty sister-in-law has promised to decorate it with stars and hearts (because they are the only shapes Lil A can identify and because Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was the first song she learned to garble/”sing”, and because I couldn’t have wished for a better kid if I’d wished on every single star in the Noordhoek sky – and there are lots of those, and because she makes my whole heart so full).
And when the relatives have gone home and Lil A is in bed after an exhausting day of being doted on and given stuff, I will think about how much I love her and everything she is, and probably have a little cry, on my lovely clean buttercream-and-juice-free couch.