This year’s birthday celebrations have started early - though I’m not complaining. Why have one birthday celebration, I always say, when you could have several?
Had I been in any doubt that today’s visit by the Middle of the Darling Daughters and the Trio of Rampaging Rascals might be Birthday Related, it didn’t take too long for the littlun’s to let me into the
“Big Secret.” There was a lot of chat from the moment they swept through the door and into the house about cup cakes and candles, plenty enough for me to get the message however much I tried to close my ears. What made the day extra special was
the presence of my eldest grandson Jack, home for the weekend from uni, Finals under his belt and looking forward to a summer free of work and worry.
B (aka Grandad) hasn’t been too well so instead of the beach it was a Garden Day for us today. There was, however, plenty to keep the Trio occupied. Never have my plants been so lavishly (and lovingly) watered. At least not since the last time the Trio
came to visit. Once the water butt was completely empty, they turned their attention to the plastic table and chairs which I’d set out on the lawn for them and demanded soap, spray and paper towels so that they could give them a good spring clean. It
seems they have all suddenly become enormously house proud, ever since their father (“Rules is Rules!”) bought them each a small dustpan and brush and set them the challenge of helping to keep their home clean and tidy. I am Beyond Impressed.
I don’t know why I worry that a visit to their Grandad and me may not be quite as much fun as it used to be - resourceful children make their own fun. We may not have
been able to go crabbing - but Young Faris found the fishing line, the crab bucket and the net in the garage and caught a whole bucket-full of imaginary crabs once I showed him how. The latest jigsaw from the charity shop proved a hit - the box was a bit battered
but the picture of Winnie, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet was admired by all. And you can’t really beat fish fingers and waffles for lunch (eaten at an extremely clean table!) for lunch. We adults ate fish finger sandwiches in the sunshine and agreed that
it’s hard to beat them for a tasty, easy, lunchtime treat.
My daughter and grandson disappear into the kitchen. “In a minute,” Faris tells
me, “You need to go indoors, sit down, shut your eyes and hold your hands out like this,” (he stretches his hands out like a humble supplicant) - before adding, pleadingly: “Can I blow out your candles?” Candles? What candles? I am
tempted to ask.
My early birthday has a sunflower theme - so very appropriate, given all my sunflower plants in the back garden already reaching skywards. Three
of the four home-made birthday cards I open depict sunflowers on the front; the fourth, drawn by Lilia (Youngest of the Twins by one important minute) is apparently a portrait of Auntie Kazza (known to you as the Youngest of the Darling Daughters.) Faris,
whose own card is a truly masterful composition, whispers to me that his sister’s is “just scribble” but I respond, loyally, that it is art. Which is, as everybody knows, like beauty - in the Eye of the Beholder. My birthday cake is a circle
of cup cakes, each one lovingly baked by the Trio, with some help from their mother and cousin, and decorated as a sunflower, with yellow icing and a centre of chocolate strands. Each one, it goes without saying, delicious.
“What a lovely day! Thank you so much for coming!” I message my daughter when I reckon she will be back home. I would never underestimate what it takes to make a three hour return journey
by car with a trio of Rascals just to bring me a sunflower cake and sing Happy Birthday to me. I know what she will say, in response, because it’s what she always says, and it never ceases to make me misty-eyed:
“We will always come...”