A ﬁrst for my baby, and for matzah meal
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My baby is one.
Over the past 12 months I have watched my teeny, baldy bundle of joy blossom into a tousle-haired toddler (although I use the latter term loosely as we’re not exactly overdoing it on the ambulatory front at the moment).
I have learned to marvel at a whole new world, as seen through the eyes of a little girl who’s got joie de vivre down to a very fine art. A world where a glimpse of a chicken (“Cluck, CLUUUUCK”) elicits as much excitement as a winning lottery ticket. Where the very sight of a tub of soapy liquid produces joyful squawks of “bubbles, bubbles, mama”.
It’s a good place to be.
But at the same time, I have realised how little I really knew about parenthood — and I have learned how to perform u-turns at a speed that would leave Usain Bolt standing.
“I’m not having the house turn into one big playroom,” the pregnant me insisted to anyone who would listen, mindful of the fact that everyone I knew with children had gradually been submerged under piles of gaily coloured plastic.
Now, as I trip over yet another ersatz animal on my way to the sink and move a pile of fluffy rabbits off the sofa so a guest can sit down, I can see that idealism and reality are very different things.
Yes — where once I was adamant that no daughter of mine would conform to type, now I open the wardrobe and am confronted by a sea of pink. But, hey — what’s a volte-face between friends?
As I pull back the curtains (pink, naturally) to see the dawning of a new day, I find myself marvelling at how fast the year has flown.
My baby is one. Who’d have thought it?
The first birthday — of course — is a milestone for any mother. The first birthday party? More of a millstone, methinks. It’s that pesky aspiration vs actuality thing again.
We had deemed our daughter too young for any large-scale revelry. A party was pointless we said. Perhaps a little family tea… So how we came to have a houseful of rampaging pre-toddlers scattering crumbs near and far and hitting each other over the head with Mr Whoozit and a selection of musical instruments, I am not entirely sure.
On a positive note, at least I was afforded the opportunity to plan a birthday feast to put Annabel Karmel to shame. For days on end my mind ran away with utopian notions of pinwheel sandwiches, of light-as-a-feather cup cakes in the shape of every farmyard creature you can think of. Assorted fruit snacks cleverly crafted into intricate statuettes, perhaps a breadstick reconstruction of the Eiffel Tower. Yes, my fantasies carried me to a place far beyond my artistic capabilities, but I happily shoved reality firmly to one side.
That is, until I double-checked my diary. And discovered that my daughter’s big day fell slap bang in the middle of Passover. My dreams of culinary glory evaporated in a haze of cardboard crumbs.
The bunny-shaped sandwich cutter that slid so smoothly through a slice of freshly baked bread reduced the unleavened variety to rubble. And then there was the further stress of trying to stop a load of toothless infants choking on matzah, which added a whole new dimension to the festivities.
I did my best. Though my head is still swimming from cutting 200 mini marshmallows into thirds and sticking them — one by one — on to the cake in order to create “wool” for the sheep (a pascal lamb if ever there was one).
And yet I am already thinking about next year. Should we go for a panda? Perhaps a fairytale castle? Or maybe we’ll keep the Passover theme going strong with a reconstruction of the parting of the Red Sea. Trust me, it’s amazing what you can do with matzah meal if you put your mind to it.
Fortunately, there are many months left for me to make those big decisions. So in the meantime I shall cast cake-making aside and continue to enjoy the ever-increasing chit-chat of a little girl all dressed in pink. My baby is one. I can’t quite believe it.