We were driving home after a two-hour shopping spree. We were both drained, emotionally and physically. Two human raisins sitting quietly, wondering how we survived it. Again.
It is something we do once a year, as a result of feeding our kids. You see when you feed them, they grow. They get bigger. Which implies that the only warm garments that still fit them are the two scarves and one beanie they have tucked beneath the heap of t-shirts. South Africa is preparing for winter and that implies we have to ensure our kids have sufficient protection against the bitterness of the howling, freezing cold. Unless of course you force them to wear what they have left from last season. But then you have to accept the reality of other people thinking that they are auditioning for the chorus line of Annie. Or Tom Sawyer.
Needless to say, it was a long day. Battling queues and a thousand shoppers. Fighting over sizes and colours. Regretting why you didn’t bring the brats along this time. Remembering the sulking and complaining of last year as the reasons why. Finding out that there are more vigilant parents out there and they have snatched all the sizes your kids are supposedly wearing.
In the end we were two tattered parents with a heap of bags lying on the backseat, knowing we were probably going to return half of it the following day. Then her BBM message came through.
“My first time baking brownies.”
The Wife grabbed her face and almost dropped the phone. I dropped a monumental f-bomb, shattering the silence. The Wife giggled hysterically. Probably out of fear. For it might seem like a novel idea, Princess (11) taking on a baking project, but as parents of the little vortex of chaos, there is a reason why she’s never been allowed to bake without supervision. Nightmarish images of burnt fingers or other scorched body parts filled our minds. And then we haven’t even allowed ourselves to imagine what the kitchen must look like.
I sped up, drove like a madman with a pregnant wife. We knew instinctively we had to save what we can. Hoping it was only an idea she had. Praying that she’s still mixing ingredients. Or searching for a recipe.
As we got closer to our neighbourhood, relief flooded our system when we didn’t see any smoke bellowing from the vicinity where our house was suppose to be. We also didn’t hear any Fire brigade sirens. We parked the car and got out with the engine still running.
Son was still in front of the computer screen, exactly where we left him. Which doesn’t really mean anything, because it would take something worse than an atomic bomb to get him to move away from any screen.
Princess was nowhere to be seen. We were somewhat confused as we turned the corner of the kitchen and didn’t slip on anything. But we were totally shocked when we saw the counter!
Princess realised we were home and rushed into the house, telling us about her baking project. Sharing hugs and kisses. She obviously forgot that we were contacts on her BBM, and that we could see her update, intended for her friends. But we acted extremely surprised, like all good parents should. And it was relatively easy, for we had time to adjust to the news.
She forced the brownies into our hands and we tasted cautiously. I don’t think I will ever forget that anxious expression on her face in those few moments when the brownies moved from her plate to our mouths. To my utter amazement, the brownies was pretty damn good. Not that she would have known if it tasted anything less than that. Yes, I would lie to my children. Fortunately I didn’t have to.
That evening, when the excitement of the day withered away in the darkness before bedtime, Princess was lying on my shoulder, watching Grey’s Anatomy. (Because she’s to big to sit on my lap.) She was telling me that the Wife decided, she’s old enough to prepare dinner on Wednesdays, if she wanted too. Off course Princess being who she is, wanted too. And was giddy at the prospect.
I looked down, stroking her golden hair, thinking about the unreal reality of Princess making great brownies on her own. And I felt a little sad.