By Shirley Deuchrass

Weeks before she

scanned cake books to find a design

& made a list of guests. She’d like

to have the children on their own

but some of the clingy mothers would

stay anyway so she just added them

to the list. She’d already decided to

give her darling a present before

they all arrived. Days before

she bought candles, hats, serviettes

cherrios, chips, sprinkles for the

bread which she insisted on making

because kids eat far too much junk food

these days and her child is definitely

not going to. And then, when the day

arrived it was chaos as all the toddlers

ripped the birthday paper long before she’d

collated all the cards. There was a puddle

of sparkling water on the floor, thank

goodness she didn’t buy fizz but one mother

thought she was mean, not that she said.

You could just tell. Everybody sang

happy birthday and her darling blew

out the candles and then had a hissy fit

because she had given the first piece of cake

to someone else’s darling and then

two of the kids fought over a toy bear and

one of them pulled the ear off

and they both howled. The mothers

laughed but it looked like they wanted

to join the tug-o-war. It was time for

photo’s she decided and made monkey noises

behind the camera. The kids were

more interested in the soapy bubbles which

one of the mothers had opened so she

abandoned the photo’s and directed

them all outside. She gave them all

a balloon but two of the kids popped

theirs and she only had one left so

she gave her little darling’s balloon

away. There was more tears but it

was soon home time. And when they left

she sat on the step with her darling

in her arms and wondered why she

had bothered. Her little darling

didn’t care about the cake or the

presents, but sat on the step and

giggled at the water he tipped

over his own toes.

Shirley has poems in several literary magazines including PoetryNZ, Takahē and Blackmail Press, as well as one book title named, “River Calls Me Home.” Shirley lives in Wanaka and loves flowers and spending time with grandchildren.