A Birthday Party At The Pool

Malcolm turned 12 and we had a pool party celebration for him last weekend. We had 10 boys over and we basically let them run wild.

Through the years of party planning, I learned that I usually risk losing my voice and sanity trying to have the kids do my bidding. A handheld speaker would definitely come in handy but it really needn’t be too complicated. The kids are usually happy just having their friends around to play with.

This time round we brought down our pool noodles, a ball and a frisbee and the boys played for 3 hours while I sat under the shade, with music plugged into my ears, chilling out. It was a pity that his younger brother fell sick and couldn’t join them at the pool but thankfully my husband was around to help babysit him.

I found this old photo of Malcolm looking all babyish at 4 years old.

12 years old is special for many reasons. In this country, there is the high stakes Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) which drives some parents to go on a year of unpaid leave so that they could stay home to coach their children. It’s the year where they would bid goodbyes to their friends whom they have spent their last 6 years with in Primary school. It’s also the year where theme birthday parties are no longer cool and colourful party decoration are for babies. And for me, I suspect it would be the last time I would be needed at his birthday parties. And that kind of motivated me to throw a birthday party for him.

The party was in the afternoon so I prepared some light snacks for tea. I ordered 40 mini burgers and baked a quiche. Gosh, they could really eat and there’s no such thing as too much food!

I got him to choose some balloons of his favourite colours but soon realised that tween boys didn’t really care much about balloons, they were more interested in releasing the helium filled balloons to see how high they would go!

So my son wanted a cake that looks like a cake, not a car nor a plane or some fanciful designed theme cakes. I heaved a sign of relief that I didn’t have to work with fondant this time. At 12 years old, he had outgrown theme cake and wanted something that looked ‘edible’. It happened to be one of his buddy’s birthday that day and so I baked 2 ‘serious looking’ (or boring looking) cakes, one for each birthday boy. An oreo cheesecake and a 2 layer chocolate cake.

I got the oreo cheesecake recipe from a friend and the chocolate cake from here. The chocolate buttercream was really easy to work with but as usual I cut back on the amount of sugar. I used slightly less than 2 cups instead of the 3 that the recipe called for. Even so, my boys thought it was sweet. Can’t imagine if I were to go ahead with the recommended amount.

Most of the boys had 2 servings of the cakes, one of each flavour and they seemed to prefer the cheesecake. One of his friends even requested to pack some home. I was delighted that the cakes turned out so well. All these years of trial and error making birthday cakes sure did something good to my baking skills. The kind of things mothers do. I have surprised myself many times during the last decade.

It was a simple birthday party, exactly what he had asked for, with the boys getting in and out of pool, eating, swimming and running around. I can’t think of a party simpler than this and I hope it would be one of those things that he would one day look back with fond memories.



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