The Saturday Party

August 30, 2010

So if you read my previous post, you know that the party I never intended to have, made itself happen on Wednesday, the day of the kids’ birthday. I suppose it’s only appropriate that the party that was supposed to happen on Saturday fizzled out.

Actually, I think we all ran out of steam ourselves by the time Saturday dawned. The kids were pleased in a puzzled way that they should be having another party, when their birthday was clearly already over. Amit and I were feeling kind of lazy about getting the party infrastructure going, so it was 12.45 before Amit left home, ostensibly to shop for party essentials, but in reality, to run various errands such as going to the bank, the post-office, and doing the weekly grocery shopping. Meanwhile I got the cakes done without much effort, and the kids helped me to beat up a delicious mayonnaise for sandwiches.

I gave the kids lunch and packed them off for their afternoon nap, waiting for Amit to return so that we could have lunch together. He returned around 3.30, by which time, hunger pangs had got the better of me. But, as he sat down for lunch, I had to dash out. He had refused point blank to pick up return gifts and he had also most unhelpfully forgotten to bring potatoes for the potato cutlets we were supposed to be serving.

By this time, one family had taken a rain check (though it hadn’t rained yet); another emailed to say he was out of town today, but his family would come, wasn’t the party tomorrow; and a third had already informed me a couple of days earlier that they would be unable to make it due to having visitors over that very day. So while we rushed around boiling potatoes and assembling sandwiches, our guest list disintegrated from five families with seven kids, down to two families with only two kids.

In the way that these things usually turn out, this was good. We had S&S and V&V over, and we fried up a ton of french fries. The potato cutlets were disastrous and the sandwiches were roundly ignored. Cake was cut and eaten only after one round of vodka and orange juice had been downed. We sang the birthday song, but nobody took photographs, far less a video. The kids ran amok, which was as it should be too. Around 9.30, we ordered in biryani and even Mrini managed to stay up till almost 11 as ten of us crowded around our small 4-seater dining table and dug in with gusto.

In other words, it wasn’t a birthday party, but it was a real fun party. Even the kids slept until 8.30 the next morning!

And now they are four.

Too Tired To Think Straight

August 26, 2009

I’m tired. I’m so tired, I can’t think straight. I have so many things to blog about, that really probably should be entirely separate posts, and some of them probably should not even be blogged about at all, but I’m too tired to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

I’ve been tired since last Wednesday. I’ve not had a chance to stop and catch up on myself, so the tiredness is just accumulating and the end of the week is soooooooo far away. Meanwhile, I’m so tired that I nap at the traffic lights while driving (isn’t that a great idea?). I was tempted to nap while waiting ten minutes outside the kids’ school to pick them up, but then I thought, what if I nap and don’t wake up for an hour or two? I’m so tired that I’ve even stopped listening to music while driving, because even listening to music takes effort. I honestly never knew that before.

Anyhow, yesterday morning I was so pleased because Mrini woke up at 5.30 a.m., said, “Mama, sussu,” went to the bathroom, peed, flushed, and went back to bed without any intervention on my part whatsoever. Wow! She’s been staying dry through the night for a couple of weeks, so I removed her nighttime diaper about ten nights ago. She’s had two accidents since then – which is not too bad really. And now this! My babies are growing up!

Not Tara so much, though. She still has an accident if she sleeps too long in the afternoon, so she’s clearly not ready for nighttime toilet training any time soon. But I don’t mind, really, if she takes her time about it.

It’s strange, though, how Mrini seems so grown up compared to Tara that she actually seems somewhat older than her. She talks more, and more coherently, she picks up activities and concepts faster, she applies herself more diligently, she’s more sensible and more responsible overall… in so many ways, she just seems to be older. I don’t think it has anything to do with birth order; this is just the way she is. It is not a good thing or a bad thing – it’s just interesting to see how two kids, genetically identical and raised in the same environment and circumstances, can have such different personalities and abilities.

One thing Mrini hasn’t figured out yet, is what exactly it means to be “smart”.

See, we listen to The Wombles in the car all the time – because they love it. There’s one song called “Underground Overture” (the second part of this video). For a long time, Mrini struggled to say it. She called it the “Wombleground Underture” (interesting, that) and she knew that wasn’t quite right. Then at last, she managed “Underground Overture” and she was delighted at getting it right. “Mama,” she said happily, “I’m not very smart.” Tara had already mastered the phrase, so Mrini added by way of explanation, “Tara’s not very smart, I’m not very smart.” Tara seemed to take that as a compliment.

And they wondered why I was laughing.

I needed to laugh at something at that point – I’d just seen something terrible. There was a long traffic jam on the inner ring road and after crawling by for ages, we saw the cause. An Esteem-type car (unidentifiable now) had crashed into an electric light pole on the divider. The pole now stuck out across one lane of our side – well, more than one lane, but by then it was high enough so you could safely pass under it. Apparently it was still live and traffic was edging gingerly past the lower section. On the other side, the crashed car still lay. It was a burnt shell. There was nothing in it – just a blackened shell. The petrol tank must have caught fire. It was gruesome. It was the sort of thing you see on TV… but… it never bothered me to see this kind of thing on TV, whether on news or movies. It never seemed real. This, suddenly, was too real. Some poor sucker driving along makes one small mistake and poof! Roasted! Or, perhaps, electrocuted.

Ugh (shuddering). It could happen to anyone.

That’s a good reason not to drive when you’re tired. Or drunk (which, at any rate, I don’t do).

Anyhow, we had a birthday party yesterday. It totally was the sort of day which reminded me why I ever wanted to be a mother. It is so simple with little kids – you do whatever you can (and that might be a lot) to make them happy, and you never want anything back, except to know that what you did made them happy. How I worked to make it a memorable day! And it was! Well, at least for me it was.

I had most of the baking in hand by Monday evening. On Monday night Suchorita came and did the decorations for me and helped me to pack the cup cakes (thanks a lot!). Then I did some organizing, blew up lots of balloons, and brought the kids’ birthday gifts – bicycles – in from outside and re-inflated their tyres. Man, was I tired at the end of that!

But it was worth it, because the girls woke up and went with great delight straight to their cycles. And with the decorations in place, it felt like a party from the moment they got up. When party-time came, enormous fun was had with the balloons – kids playing and adults watching.

It was very funny to note that the girls have completely understood the concept that on birthdays, you get gifts. The concept of “thank you” is still some way off, though. One of the other kids had an interesting comment. Urged by her mother to hand over the gifts to Mrini and Tara, who had just got their gifts from somebody else, this girl says, “but they already have gifts.”

Of course the girls had zero success at blowing out the candles on their birthday cakes – which was ultimately done by yours truly (but only after Tara manage to spew out some spit in the vicinity). But after that all went well – the cakes were decently demolished, the chips were annihilated, while the samosas were roundly ignored.

And I stayed up till well past 11, watching the videos (thanks S&S!) – which was the greatest fun of all and well worth all the effort of making the party happen.

…And The Twins Turn Two. Twice.

August 26, 2008

I take it back. I said it would be chaos, but I take it back. Unconditionally and unabashedly. The Sunday night drinks and dinner party was an unqualified success. We had nine families on the guest list. One was out of town (sorely missed) another was down with viral (sad, but inevitable in this weather; one family out of ten could be considered better than par) and a third said they would come early (ugh! We were scurrying around till the last moment as usual) and then never showed up at all and without a word of explanation either.

So we had six families apart from us, which meant 10 kids. As soon as the number of kids reached critical mass (four) things picked up pace and went rapidly out of control, with decibels exceeding safe limits and toys, gifts and associated litter exceeding total available floor space.

It was chaos, but the good sort of chaos. Children were screaming, but mostly with laughter. Adults were relaxing, mostly with drinks. The food arrived on time, and was not just enough, but roughly double of what was required. The cakes were cut at 8.30 and were not just enough, but quite delicious to boot. I had made the Best Ever Fudge Cake, a recipe I found in a book about two decades ago and have made only 3-4 times since. It really is the best ever, though it’s a long and complicated cake to make. The second cake was vanilla with chocolate butter icing. (I suppose there are photos somewhere, but I was too busy to notice whether anyone was shooting and if so who.)

Dinner was served at 9.30, but all the kids were having too much fun to be bothered with food. They were (forcibly) carted off at 10.30, while they were still having a whale of a time, by parents who were worried about the next day being a working/pre-school/daycare day and about the potential adverse consequences of kids being up late, in most cases way past their usual bedtime.

We put the twins to bed at almost 11, and spent an hour trying to restore some parts of the house. Then we went to bed, slept a few hours, got up, and geared up for the twins’ birthday.

Their gifts included a pretty pink tricycle, a small electronic keyboard, pretty pink frocks, and two identical car seats that we somehow managed to get and install over Saturday and Sunday.

We all spent the morning unwrapping the previous evening’s gifts, and gobbling large chunks of leftover cake. The next thing we knew, it was 3 p.m. And we hadn’t done a thing for the tea-party. Amit was despatched post haste to obtain cakes and patties, while I replenished the balloon stock (oh, yeah, we had streamers and balloons all over the living room; inspiration, motivation, and implementation were provided by Amit, while lung power for the balloons was almost entirely mine), dressed the kids and self, laid out paper plates and crisps and generally tried to organise a party sort of atmosphere.

This second, smaller party was almost as loud and swinging as the first, despite that all kids bar one were younger than the twins. Nobody did serious bodily harm to anybody else and apparently a good time was had by all. It was past 7 when return gifts were handed out and the party dispersed, leaving behind a scene of complete and total destruction and devastation. The second in two days.

Well, the twins only turn two once in their lives. And thank goodness for that! Next year, it will be different. And no, there won’t be three parties. No way. No. NO!

Twins’ Birthday Party – The Countdown Begins

August 18, 2008

After giving the matter some serious consideration over this past long weekend, I’ve come to the conclusion that:

  • Organizing a birthday party for twins is not easy.
  • Organizing a birthday party for any two-year-old is not easy, especially if you want to do it at home (even if you are ordering in all the food)
  • Organizing a party of any sort is not easy if the guest list includes a high proportion of people under age 3
  • Organizing a dinner-and-drinks party for one day, followed by a high-tea part the very NEXT day, is far, far from easy.

Contrary to what you might think, we do not party at home every month – our last party at home was almost three months ago. And that was after an interval of about a year. So even if we were used to throwing parties as a DINKs couple, we have certainly kicked that habit now. Plus, if everyone shows up, this is going to be the largest party we have thrown at home in six or seven years, or longer. And that time, it was without any people under 18.

On the other hand though, this is going to be our first party ever where all the food is going to be ordered in. And served on paper plates with plastic spoons (gasp!). So that should make things easier, right?

We had a hectic long weekend trying to organize ourselves. Top priority was to buy the girls clothes and gifts. Not being very shopping-oriented people, it is always difficult for us to go shopping for gifts and clothes for ourselves and each other, and it hasn’t so far been any easier to shop for the girls. In fact, so far we have relied mostly on family and friends to shower the girls with gifts and clothes – a strategy that seems to be working admirably. But, what kind of parents are we if we don’t have a suitable stock of birthday gifts and clothes for our girls?

So, on all three days of the long weekend, various colds and fevers notwithstanding, we pushed ourselves out of the house and went malling/shopping – a total of five excursions! That’s more than we usually do in six months! At the end of it, we were exhausted (though the kids loved it)… but at least it was beginning to look like we were on track for a party next weekend. We have the paper plates, cups, and napkins. We have streamers and balloons. We have enough crisps to feed an army of kids, and enough juice and fizzy drinks to fill a swimming pool. We have some alcohol. We even managed to get one birthday gift between the two girls, and one-and-a-half birthday dresses each, which we picked up in sheer desperation last thing on Sunday evening.

So what’s left?

Well, let’s see. We still haven’t spoken to a single caterer, we don’t even know where the birthday cakes are coming from, we’re still short of a bottle of rum in our bar, we haven’t bought a single return gift for the umpteen kids who are supposed to show up, and surely one gift for two birthday girls is simply not good enough?

We have, however, issued invitations to most of the people on our guest list. (If you’re reading this and we haven’t invited you yet, consider it done.) So one way or another, we must have ample supplies of food in the house by 7 p.m. next Sunday. And then again by 5 p.m. next Monday. It’ll be interesting to see how we manage to get it done.

Birthday Coming Up

August 9, 2008

Ten months ago, when we’d had the kids for less than a month, it seemed like it would take until eternity for their second birthday, their first with us, to roll around. (In case you haven’t been following this blog, let me explain that we adopted the twins when they were 13 months old last September.)

Now it’s only a couple of weeks away, and I’m worried. I’m so not a big party sort of person. I mostly avoided big parties on my own birthday as a child and since then nothing has changed. Unfortunately, Amit is just the opposite. He had 50-person parties as a child and would love to do the same even now.

So, while I would like to call just a couple of close friends for the twins’ first/second birthday, Amit is gunning to invite every person we know in Bangalore, even some whom we haven’t met in years. It won’t come to 50 people, but counting adults and children, it’ll be close. According to Amit, having 12 kids under 5 running around the house closely followed by 20-odd parents will be great fun; according to me, it will be chaos, confusion, and complete disaster.

And that’s just our friends. The twins have their own friends whom they meet in the park and whose company they might even enjoy on their birthday. If we invite all those kids along with parents and siblings, that’s going to be a whole party in its own right.

So now we’re gearing up for two parties, one the evening before their birthday, which will be drinks and dinner, in other words the “adult” party. The other will be late afternoon of the actual birthday, with neighbourhood kids, chips, sandwiches, and of course, birthday cakes.

I’m not cooking a thing for either of these two parties, if I have my way. Amit is keen for me to at least rustle up the cakes for the dinner party, but I’m not promising anything. As far as I’m concerned, all the food is going to be ordered in, and served on paper plates and styrofoam glasses.

What we will have to do is to somehow decorate the house so it looks like a kiddies’ birthday party. That’s a daunting enough prospect for me – streamers and balloons are simply not my thing – and the idea of having to do it twice in two days is giving me the heebiejeebies, or, as I prefer to call it, the igglywigglies. Add to that the organizing of two different types of food and drink and the whole thing just does not look like a cake walk to me. Admittedly, I’m a rather unsocial person who prefers my parties to be small and close, but is that such a terrible thing to wish upon your two-year-old twins?

Party Animals? Not Yet!

March 16, 2008

Today was another first for us with the twins: their first birthday party. Not their birthday, of course, that’s in August, but the first birthday party they were invited to.

When I was a child, birthdays were simple and fun. Parties were usually held sometime in the afternoon or early evening, in the birthday boy’s house. Much or all of the food was home made and games were the stock arrangement of musical chairs, pass the parcel and blind man’s bluff.

Things have changed since then. The party we were invited to was at a food court and gaming arcade in a nearby mall. What’s worse is that we were expected to be there at 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Who goes anywhere at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning? I couldn’t possibly get me and the kids (not to mention Amit)fed, bathed, decently dressed, and ready to leave the house by that hour! I suggested that we politely decline, but Amit wanted to go. After all, this was a college friend we’d met a total of three times in the last ten years and whose son we’d be meeting for the first time ever at his third birthday – clearly it was too important an event to miss.

Despite my best efforts, it was 11 by the time we left home, but I think we reached in good time. The gaming area was being blasted by mind-numbingly loud and tuneless music and the twins were far too young for any of the games. After we had found and greeted the hosts and the three-year-old boy for whom we had not even got a gift, I took the girls into a big fancy playpen sort of thing, where an attendant put them on a long and steep slide that scared them half to death. Once they had recovered from that unhappy experience, they wandered around the play pen in a bewildered fashion, trying to avoid an older child who was intent on knocking them down with a monstrous rubber ball.

After 20 minutes of this, we emerged and explored the area a bit. The hosts had procured a card that gave the kids access to all the games, but only Amit used it once to play something that looked like a cross between carrom and football.

At 12 noon, we were all shepherded towards the food court section, where balloons cordoned off an area set aside for this party. Cake, in the shape of a red-and-white car (it was chocolate underneath the icing), was cut and distributed and “lunch” was gradually brought on. It consisted of noodles, pizza, sandwich, and fries, accompanied by fizzy drinks. The twins had never eaten any of these before, and since they don’t digest wheat well, I wasn’t very happy with the menu, but they enjoyed the fries and the icing off the cake. The cake was delicious, but we’ve avoided giving them chocolate since I read that the liver isn’t equipped to handle it in the first two years.

At lunch, we saw the other guests, maybe around 7-8 families other than us and the hosts. We were all seated at two long tables arranged at right angles to each other. We knew one other family well, so we sat with them. None of the other guests were introduced to us nor, I gathered, to each other.

By 12.45, we said our goodbyes and were further embarassed to receive return gifts, considering we hadn’t even given a gift in the first place.

Perhaps the whole outing would have been more fun if the kids were older and could have enjoyed the games; but I still think that a children’s birthday party should be more about children running around and playing with each other, or with toys, rather than sitting in front of machines and playing with computer simulations. I guess I’m pretty old fashioned.

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