Once a year around mid February there is an event that takes place in our house hold. It may seem insignificant to those around us but to other parents who only have one child it is a rather important day, it is our son’s birthday! Three years ago our little mite came into the world with enough gusto to take on the Spanish armada and in doing so our lives were never the same again.
For Daniel’s first birthday we went pretty low key, a small gathering of friends and family at our home. I splurged a bit on his cake but it was awesome! Our South African friends loved it because I had a local lady bake us all South African desserts, including my all time favourite: Melktert. It was great fun having the house bursting at the seems but even with the crowd there are people missing who shouldn’t miss a little boy’s first birthday and those are his grandparents. Their absence is of no fault of their own, it is our cross to bear because we are an expat family but during special moments likes these it is when one misses your family more keenly.
Another year rolled around and this time we went a bit bigger and arranged his birthday party at one of the local petting zoo slash animal sanctuary in Dubai called Posh Paws Dubai (www.poshpawsdubai.com) by this time Daniel was already attending nursery three times a week so it seemed like a great idea at the time to invite all his class mates thinking that many would not accept the invitation. Of course the cake had to reflect the area in which we were having the party and it was again pretty awesome! Thankfully February is a great time of year in Dubai, its nice and cool and the kids can be outside most of the day. With the duck ponds and the multitude of animals, the kids went feral! Thank goodness everything is fenced off and they cant really get very far but oh my wow! They went off to feed every animal they could find, Im sure the parents where cursing slightly under their breaths as their toddlers went careering off towards the camel pen or to give the pony carrots and they had to follow closely behind. With my hubby on the braai we weren’t making boerie rolls fast enough and the kids sugar high was starting to kick in so instead of calming the situation we decided to cut the cake and give them some more. As the sunset over the animal sanctuary it was time to head home. We were exhausted and by the time we all got home it was quick bath or shower and in to bed!
This year around we decided to combine the last year years experience and have the birthday party at home and bring the petting zoo to the party. Thankfully with the help of our neighbors we have created quite an enviable backyard for the kids to play in after school and the weekends. All we needed to do at that point was to fill the area demarcated for the sandpit, which was everywhere. Its a strange concept living in the desert but having to try find sand to fill a sandpit for the kids to play in. Mostly because it is illegal to remove any natural sand from the surrounding dunes with out proper permits so, shock and horror, we had to source sand for an alternative supplier. And it cost money! The nerve of it all! I think that being an expat does, in a way, shelter you from the real world. Although the sand would be delivered we would actually have to shovel it ourselves. Yes, I know I sound a bit like an expat brat but have you ever tried to actually move a rather large pile of sand on your own? Holy moly it is hard work, needless to say I didn’t need to hit the gym for two days because the muscles in my arms were on fire! Thankfully the men arrived and got stuck in. So the with cake was arranged but what event does not have a hic up or two and the petting zoo fell through so I got my Google on and found a great local business that does pony hire and within a few mins a pony had joined the list of attendees.
Finally the big day arrived, the gazebo went up thanks to hubby and all of a sudden we had a kick ass party venue! The balloons went up and out came the braai to make the hamburgers and the pony arrived! I don’t know who was more excited, me or the kids! My grooming skills kicked in and soon the pony was spick and span! And in a flash people started arriving and the cake was cut the pony was ridden.
To be honest at this point was so exhausted that the later part of the day was a complete blur. As I wrestled Daniel into the bath and into bed I was baffled as to why I actually did this to myself. But the answer was simple, every birthday for my child is special. It is not just the anniversary of his birth date but the day I became a mom and it was a resounding moment that will never fade from my memory or be eroded by time. It was the first day or the rest of my life and I will celebrate it as such even when I am gaunt grey and old.