I don’t know where the photos of the cakes are… but here are photos of the twins all dressed up for the Sunday evening party, and on Monday (birthday) morning, exploring their new tricycle, still in their nightclothes..
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!
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.
Oh, yeah, I forgot – we got the new car. That was last Friday. Yes, it’s the Honda Civic and yes, it’s a damn sexy car, it’s misty violet, and we love it.
How could I forget? Easy – the twins. They make me forget lots of stuff, including that I should occasionally comb my hair and also, perhaps, sometimes go to the loo.
So, in the entire week that we’ve had it, I’ve even managed to drive it once. It was a breeze. Amit, however, is so overwhelmed by the size, the cost, and the sheer extravagance of the machine, that he lives in perpetual fear of it and routinely stalls it (despite having more than a decade of driving experience with various different cars to his credit). All that notwithstanding, he took it for a long spin yesterday – all the way to Chennai and back. In one day! One heck of a long day, I must say. He left at 6 a.m. and got back around 12.30 a.m. – all intact, thankfully. I can’t say I was happy about it – that’s a lot of driving for one person in one day – but he seemed to enjoy it.
The only problem with the new car is that it has motivated Amit to seriously consider buying car seats. (For you international readers out there, car seats are not required by law in India, and few people invest in them, no matter what you might say about safety and so on. And kids, even babies in arms, routinely sit in the front seat, even, I think, in cars equipped with passenger side air bags. Yeah, gasp. Of course, speeds are relatively low out here, and I think in the Indian mindset, no place is safer for a baby than its mothers arms (and it’s a lot cheaper too). But that’s a separate discussion altogether.)
Actually, in my view, buying car seats is not a problem. I’d have done it as soon as we got the kids, because it means that I don’t have to handle (physically restrain) two squirming kids in the back seat every time we go anywhere near or far. It also means that I can take the two kids out in the car on my own, thus increasing my mobility and independence manifold. Quite apart from the safety aspect. The problem, and the only reason we didn’t actually buy them so far, is the cost.
We went and looked at car seats in MotherCare last weekend. The wrong place to go, no doubt, because we found a pretty a good car seat, forward facing, intended for kids 9 kg and upward, with a five point harness, and which gets hooked onto the car’s rear seat belts, and which can be used for several years as a booster seat, it seems – well, it costs close to 10 k. And we need two of them.
Of course, the argument goes that if you can afford a Honda Civic, this is the least you can do in the interests of your kids’ safety. So, having convinced ourselves in the course of a long and serious debate that this is something we should do in the interests of our kids’ safety, we’re likely to bite this bullet and buy those car seats sometime soon. Now we only have one further question to address: once we have the two car seats, do we keep them in the new car (which Amit uses to go to office) or in the old car (which has been cast off to me and might be used to drive the kids around)?
Or do we get two car seats for each car?
There are lots of things a parent does in everyday life, which bear testimony to their love for their children. A few examples: dealing with poop and puke and everything inbetween; showing patience in the face of tantrums, illness, general unreasonableness, and everything inbetween; acting chauffeur, butler, cook, and many things inbetween… and more!
But I don’t know if any one rather common act of a parent speaks more of love than this: steam inhalation.
So, your kid/s has a cold. You give the drops and syrups and whatnot, you wrap them up warmly and feed them soup and orange juice or whatever. That’s easy. But that’s not all. You have to give them steam. You have to get a kettle full of boiling water and place it in close proximity to the said sick child and keep the said sick child in close proximity to the said kettle of boiling water for several minutes. And ideally, you do this thrice a day for several days.
Up until this time around, my kids didn’t object to this treatment too much. I’d set an electric kettle on a low table, put a chair next to it, drape a large bedsheet over the whole lot, and get under the sheet with one child on each knee. Before the heat built up, I’d have them engrossed in songs, fairy tales, or other random mommy-babble. They’d sit and listen till they fell asleep or I ran out of inspiration. Amit once even video-taped the whole sequence – from the outside, all you see is a voluminous, tent-like bedsheet with strange sounds emanating from it – it was bizarre. But hilarious.
But, alas, children grow up. And change. And in this particular respect, that change has taken the shape of an aversion to the talking-bedsheet treatment. Tara, actually, still doesn’t mind it too much. As I usually subject them to this treatment just before afternoon naptimes and end of day bedtimes, she’s too sleepy to do anything other than drowse on my shoulder. Mrini, on the other hand…
And goes on wailing right until the end of the session.
See, I think my kids are the cutest, the bestest, the adorable-est… the usual, you know? But when they start wailing… (insert gnashing of teeth and pulling out of hair sounds here)
I mean, it’s not as if I enjoy the steam treatment. Whether I have a cold or not (but especially if not), probably the thing I least want to do is spend ten minutes babbling under a bedsheet while getting cooked pink like a tomato. And believe me, it does absolutely NO good to my hair. This blasted steam treatment is a headache to set up (gathering up sheet, chair, low table, electric kettle and rigging up the latter so as to be inaccessible to the kids, and then gathering up the kids…), a headache to administer, and is thoroughly detrimental to our electricity bill to boot (to say nothing of the environment in general).
Yet, in the interests of good health, it must be done. I hate it. She hates it. It doesn’t seem to be doing either of us any damned good. But it must be done.
So – in my limited experience, this has to be one of the most difficult everyday-kinda demands on parental affection. And to think that she’s probably going to hold this against me for the rest of her life. I can just see it now – an adult (or adolescent) Mrini turning on me in tears and saying: “You! You used to truss me up and steam me when I was just a baby! How could you!?”
And that’s a good question.
Yesterday when it was time to go to the park, it was raining, so I decided to give the kids crayons instead. Previous crayons sessions have not been very successful: the twins know how to scribble, but prefer to stock and trade the crayons, and tear the sketch book.
First, I was impressed to see that as soon as I asked them if they would like the crayons, they both headed off towards the cupboard where the crayons are kept, as though they knew exactly what I was talking about. They could hardly contain their excitement when I handed them the tattered and torn box of crayons and the sketchbook. Mrini even pointed out that she would rather sit on the carpet than the cold floor.
Having settled themselves, Tara grabbed the sketchbook, while Mrini cornered the crayon box and tried to extract a crayon from it. She was trying to pry it out with her fingers, so I suggested that she just upturn the box. She tried, but not enough, so I upturned it for her and the crayons all came tumbling out. Surprise, surprise: that was not what she wanted. She meticulously picked up each one of the 16 crayons and put them back in the box.
Tara, meanwhile, had been turning the pages of the sketchbook. Most of the pages were either blank, or full of meaningless scribbles, so it wasn’t until she reached the very end that she found a page with some text and pictures on it – insructions on how to draw a face, if you please. It was upside down. She looked at it for a minute. Then she said “ulta” and turned the book the right way round! How on earth did she know?
Mrini fished out a few crayons and gave them to Tara, who scribbled for a bit. Mrini was trying to get a particular colour out of the box and it wasn’t coming. I said, “What colour do you want?” and she said, “Yellow.” I was mighty impressed. They have been saying the word colour, but I didn’t think they knew what it meant. And I have been trying to tell them names of different colours, but I didn’t think they had learnt.
Anyway, so then I asked her, “Shall I help you?” and she replied with a resounding “no” and scurried off.
A few minutes later, she got frustrated, flung the whole lot of crayons far and wide, and threw herself into my lap wailing loudly. Once the wailing subsided, she got up, gathered all the crayons in her fist, found she couldn’t hold all sixteen at once, flung them far and wide and… you guessed it… threw herself into my lap wailing loudly. This went on for several iterations, till she decided to gather the crayons and put them in my hand instead. Then she started picking them out of my hand and… sigh… back to step one above.
At the end of a 20 minute session, there were crayons all over the floor and under the furniture, the crayon box had been further wrecked, the sketchbook had been largely ignored, and Mrini had used up about half a dozen of her stock of tantrums. Naturally, nobody had done much drawing. Doesn’t look like there’s a budding artist amongst these two, does it?
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?