Also, she’s been chanting “happy birthday” for days now, so there was a demand we had to appease.
That translated last night into a couple of panicked hours as we rearranged the living room to accommodate guests and children, strung a banner across the curtains declaring happy birthday, and put her bunting back up, after it had languished in a kitchen drawer for months.
When I got up this morning, my wife chased me out of the house. My mission, before I’d even had breakfast, was to tool down to Tiong Bahru and purchase pastries from the bakery there for our guests. It’s about a fifteen minute walk to Tiong Bahru from our place, but longer if you’re devoid of energy and pushing a nearly-two-year-old in a stroller. I staggered to the bakery, only to find a huge queue of people already there and almost no croissants.
I was panicking, not so much because of this or the lack of coffee,but because we had no candles for the birthday cake, and I was assigned the duty of finding some.in Singapore this does not appear to be a simple task. Tea lights you can buy, or firelighters for a barbecue, but candles don’t show up in the supermarket in the party section or anywhere else. I went to the convenience store and asked there, and got a bored and aggressive “no” from a man with bumfluff on his upper lip and a negative attitude possibly provoked by spending all his time selling condoms to the guests of the hourly hotel above the shop.
I gave up, fed our child some croissant and rushed home, arriving just before the start of the parry. And of course, like any party nobody turned up for half an hour, but that did give us time to panic some more and cut the croissants up that I’d purchased (no mini croissants being available, signifying the End Of The World).
When guests arrived, bearing presents and other toddlers, I was pleased to see that our daughter didn’t get freaked out or start being aggressively possessive of her toys. She was probably too surprised by the reconfiguration of the living room to be thinking of toy retention tactics, and as we had given her one present today (a plastic play kitchen) she had her mind focused on that.
About eleven we sang her happy birthday and presented her with a cupcake. Unlike last year, when she went to a Mexican restaurant that I wrote a 10,000 word review of (and where she did get a candle) she hadn’t been kept up late in a foreign country, and she seemed at least (if not more) excited than she did a year ago. Is it the increase in maturity? Is it not being rendered half comatose by a big bowl of rice and beans? Who knows?
The party broke up about midday, people leaving for Father’s Day lunches, which was a stroke of good fortune as we could then put our child to sleep (a task which took 45 minutes and resulted in a one hour nap), and then I could go and get my hair cut at a hipster barbershop over the street from our apartment. With a sharp haircut and an enormous moustache I look most caddish and untrustworthy, but the child doesn’t complain.
When she awoke, she opened more presents and ran amok for a little longer, before her weekly swimming lesson. No different to normal, I suppose, but with a few extra presents…