Victoria came home from school on Wednesday saying that her teacher told her she could bring a cake or cupcakes to school on her birthday (the next day). Actually we had this conversation at around 5:30 or 6 that evening. I asked her if she wanted to bring a cake, and she did, of course, what an idiotic question to an 8, now 9 year old, but one has to try, it's a 50-50% chance after all... Being the amazing and perfect mother that I am, cough, cough... I took her to the supermarket to get a pre-made cake. Yes, you heard it right, pre-made.
Note: All of her cakes so far have been bought from a store. I don't bake cakes, the ones that I've baked turned out uneatable (is that a word?) and then you need to decorate them! Are you kidding me? It's the hardest thing ever for me.
We walked aisle by aisle, up and down, side to side with no luck. No cake anywhere to be seen. The bakery in the supermarket sells breads, muffins, donuts, Berliners, things like that, the bakery right outside the supermarket sells beautiful tortes, pastries and pies that do not appeal to a 8/9 year old. Besides, they only accept cash, and I had none.
I went as far as going to the information desk and with my broken German asked for "kuchen" (I had just learned all about ordering at a bakery on my German lesson 2 days prior) the smiley lady behind the counter took me to the bread aisle and showed me some fruit cake and some sheet cakes which did not look appealing even to an adult. Never mind to a child.
We decided to buy some little Easter eggs, which turned out to be a bad idea because a couple of children have allergies in her class and they couldn't guarantee the safety of the children, so, there... all that worrying...
The next day I asked one of my good friends, who is German about the cake thing and she broke the news... the dreaded news to any non-baking parent.... they do not sell ready made cakes like in the UK, the US, Brazil in supermarkets... Actually, in Brazil you would go to a "padaria" for that, not really the supermarket, but that's besides the point. She also cleared my questions about the sheet cakes, she said, people will buy them and decorate them at home... duh, why didn't I think of that??
"Never mind the school... what am I going to do today?" I thought. For her actual birthday. Let's just make something clear right now... even if I did want to bake... or buy a boxed cake (yes, they have that in Germany), I wouldn't have been able to do it from scratch because my hand mixer isn't here. Panic!
Since once upon a time, my friend was a chef, she sent me a pic of a chocolaty dish she made not long ago, which wasn't a cake and no baking skills were necessary, score! She gave me the recipe, but I was still doubtful, not about the looks, I was sure that mine would never look like hers, which I was right about, but about making it. Self-doubt is the worst. But since she's a good friend, she told me to shut up moaning and do it, joking, but I followed her advise and went back to the grocery store. Passed by the bakery with its beautiful pastries (again, no cash, ugh) and set out to complete my mission.
I had 1hr and 40min before Victoria got home, I had to find the correct ingredients with my less than perfect German and get cooking.
In the middle of it, I realized two things: One, that the chocolate bars I bought were semi-sweet and not milk chocolate, which Victoria hates, and two, that I was so worried about the cake that I forgot the wrapping paper! Panic again! Then, Since I was at home with limited time, I couldn't do anything about the chocolate, but of course, I was calling myself the worst mum in the face of the earth, I mean, how could I do that to my own daughter? It would be the worst birthday ever... everything was going wrong... Then I remembered that we got 4 air freight boxes delivered last week and some of the paper that they lay in the boxes to protect the stuff had stayed behind, like 3 pieces. Ok, things started to look up again...
Great! I ran to the bedroom to wrap what I could, then I realized that I had no clear tape, or any type of tape, or thread, or bows, or anything like that. In that instance, the door bell rang and it was Victoria back from school, I shut the bedroom door, shut the kitchen door (I wasn't finished with my culinary art work yet) to let her in.
With strict instructions where she was not allowed to go, I finished my Victoria's dessert, while she ate a snack, I ran to the bedroom to "wrap" her presents, and tuck them in a bag, so she could at least unwrap a couple of them when Paul got home.
How did it all turn out, one might ask?
We got to speak to her favorite uncle in the whole world and he had a cake and even had a candle so that my niece could sing happy birthday and blow the candle for Victoria. Half way across the world, we sang Happy Birthday with my mum on hangouts, Victoria LOVED her crazy dessert, she didn't care that there was no wrapping paper or cake, and for dinner we took her out to eat at a sushi place around here in her pink princess dress (her choice for the food and the outfit).
It's not about a cake, it's not about the wrapping paper, or even about forgetting that you are in a different country now and that there is a slight huge possibility that they don't do things the way you expect them to. It's about how you handle the situation after the panic takes over. It's about having fun and laughing about it afterwards. Moaning that things are different won't help you.
All I can say is that, Victoria was really, really excited about her birthday, and for me, my friends, it's all that matters.