I think kids’ birthday cakes have got out of hand. Mothers ask their children what kind of cake they want for their party and they exclaim, ‘A tyrannosaurus! Olaf! A princess! Star Wars! A soccer ball!’ Mom then dashes off like a medieval serf and busts herself to research, design and craft the pièce de résistance of cakes. Some of my friends thrive on the challenge but most flail under the (unnecessary, self-induced) angst, stress and late nights it demands to concoct these elaborate masterpieces.
I’ve noticed that the taste of the cake is in inverse proportion to its fanciness. So the more complex and decorative the cake is, the more hideous it tastes. This is probably because of the bucket loads of icing and food colouring and the fact that they are made too far in advance.
One of my friends once announced she was making a swimming pool cake for her son’s birthday. It had little plastic swimmers and jelly for the water. ‘I bet it will look amazing …’ I said out loud and then thought, ‘…and taste like shite.’ Of course I was right.
What happened to the old-fashioned square, freshly made, light and fluffy choc/vanilla cake with a thin layer of icing covered in sprinkles? I miss those. I long for the day when I can have decent cake at a kid’s party.
I just wanted to get that off my chest.
It is the summer holidays. All my activities have stopped until September and most of my good friends are out of town or busy entertaining visitors. It’s clear to me that I need more friends. Today I met the loveliest, warmest lady in the park and I took her number. Meeting new girl friends is a lot like dating. We got on well and liked the look of each other, so we will take the relationship to the next level by organising a ‘play’ date. Maybe the stars will align (parenting styles, age of kids, similar routines, outlook on life, location, things to talk about, the infamous and intangible click etc) and we will become BFFs.
Even though we’re a bit lonely, we’ve still been busy. For example, today we read multiple books, fantasy played in the Wendy house, watched a movie and made a yoghurt cake and muffins. I also cooked a healthy dinner from scratch, did a load of laundry and tidied up here and there. I should mention that this warm, loving activity was interspersed with thumping, pinching, hair-pulling, biting, whining and tears (them, not me). At one point I wondered if I could lock myself in the bedroom (them outside, me inside).
My Wednesday evening French lessons are now finished, thank goodness. They finished too late and I had to constantly fight with myself to stay awake until 10pm. They were worthwhile and I feel I’ve improved. I’ve noticed that I often overcompensate for my lack of vocabulary by being overly expressive in the words I can say. So people may ask me how my weekend was and I will respond with magnifique! fantastique! super! excellente! when, in English, I would have just said my weekend was ‘fine’ or ‘nice’. I like my sparkly sunbeam of a French personality. That part of me is a little one-dimensional but ever so positive and upbeat.
I’ve just finished the most magnifique, fantastique, super book I’ve read in years. It was riveting. I’ve always read about 2 books a week, so trust me, I know a good story when I see one. I think everyone should read ‘Escape from Sobibor’ by Richard Rashke. It’s a true story about the escape from death camp Sobibor which was the biggest prisoner outbreak during World War 2.
I love books on World War 2, particularly the Holocaust. I devour Holocaust memoirs. Publishers are reluctant to publish books on this topic because they don’t sell well. I’ve taken it upon myself to read them all and give these stories the respect and awe they deserve. This sounds weird but Holocaust stories make me feel more alive and joyful. The turmoil of them centres me. They put my own preoccupations firmly in perspective and drown out my self-focused apprehensions and doubts.
There’s something remarkable about those Jews who survived the Holocaust and are able to talk about it. They have a special something, a unique and inspiring quality that I couldn’t put my finger on until I read the book ‘Into that Darkness’ by Gitta Sereny (another magnifique, fantastique, super book).
You would think it is religious belief or having a sense of hope or purpose, but that is not necessarily it. One of the survivors said, ‘[The ability to survive] was an intangible quality, not specific to educated or sophisticated individuals. Anyone might have it. It is perhaps best described as an overriding thirst – perhaps, too, a talent for life and a faith in life.’
I love the idea that some people have a talent for music or art or maths and others have a talent for LIFE. They are good at living. Courage and resilience seem to be built into their character because they have it when others in the same situation would have none. They handle life well, even when they are lost and hopeless. I know a few people like this. Do I have a talent for life? No. When the going gets tough, I have a tendency to crack and crumble into a heap. I would never have survived the Holocaust.
As you know, I have this irritating habit of future tripping. I imagine what I would do if xxx happened, how could I protect us from yyy or how I would cope if our family had to endure zzz. Maybe if I had more of a talent for life, then these thoughts wouldn’t bring on such a dizzying head rush.
I want my children to develop this resilience, this courage out of nowhere, this determined and overriding thirst, this talent for life so that they will grab on to life and keep doggedly holding on and pushing through regardless of what they are forced to endure.
Coming soon … our trip to visit family in Toronto and Chicago (‘Cargo’, as Megan says). Alastair desperately needs a break from work. He’s tired and overwhelmed and it seems he’s got to the point of fighting off deadlines with his bare fists. I also want to check out the USA and see for myself if America is really going down the tubes, as the news and social media suggest it is.