Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tenderly Thirteen

She's thirteen! How do you surprise a young lady on her birthday? How do you let her know that at this tender age she is special, cherished by her family and acknowledge that she is entering into a new stage of her life? This is how we chose to celebrate our daughter's thirteenth birthday recently. I booked a table for two at a very nice riverside restaurant. A mother and daughter lunch on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I told her we were going to buy fish and chips for lunch - they do offer a takeaway service - oh and to dress nicely! It was meant to be a surprise but she knew something was up - actually she knew mum had booked a table for two somewhere because her younger brother had overheard me on the phone and informed his sister. 'You just wait till his mother gets home' I informed her!

We had to take along her baby brother. He was the perfect gentleman. He amused himself for quite some time in trying to put the keys in the cup holder on the high chair tray and he succeeded! He also shared smiles with the waitress and charmed other patrons sitting at the next table.

Our table was right next to the water. The fish were at our feet. You can hire paddle boats at the restaurant if you want to go and explore the river. Occasionally you will see dolphins! There is also a gift shop to browse on your way out or in between courses. And the food is fabulous! I could not resist the pasta dish which featured two of my favourite foods - mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes in a creamy white wine sauce. Just heavenly!
The waitress brought over the kids menu but my daughter politely declined and said she would like to order off the main menu. How grown up she felt. She chose the Chinese style 5 spice pancakes - why am I not surprised that she chose Asian food! She declared her meal just delicious. I also pointed out to her the children's menu was for 12 years and under. So it's goodbye to pizza, cheeseburger and fries with everything. She did not mind at all! Maybe restaurants should start offering mini versions of their main menu options - I know Jamie Oliver would agree!

We resisted the dessert menu which features amazing cheesecakes and gateaux. For at home another surprise was waiting.

The Birthday Cake! And the rest of the family who were eagerly awaiting their sister's return so they could enjoy a slice of this amazing cake. Another Donna Hay inspired creation from the daughter who loves to bake and decorate cakes.

Thirteen candles to be extinguished

And thirteen minutes to demolish and devour a delectable banana cake - moist and delicious, the way banana cakes are supposed to be. Those musk sticks though, they are not our favourite confectionery but they look amazing embellishing the sides of a cake! The marshmallow fondant style icing and the fruit jellies are from Aldi's colour free range and they were the perfect sweet addition. The chocolate dipped strawberries disappeared too in less than thirteen minutes!

A beautiful day and such a lovely way to celebrate a delightful daughter turning thirteen.

Thirteen is such a tender age, she is blossoming but as a tender plant in the garden needs protection I believe it is at this tender age that a daughter also needs protection and loving care. Tender plants can so easily shrivel if left unwatered on a hot day or placed in a part of the garden too soon without shelter from the cold. They can also be damaged by pests and fruit will not be forthcoming. There will be some exposure to the prevailing elements but we still have within our means as parents the opportunity to establish boundaries and say 'No, that is not appropriate' and discuss why we do not allow her to read certain books or watch certain movies.

As we are careful about what we feed our plants (the best seaweed solution we can afford!) so we are careful about the food we provide for her growing body. And we are just as careful about what feeds her mind. And to remind her that how she presents herself to others is so important - that she is aware that clothing for example, sends a message to others. Our daughter is realizing this and she loves to wear modest, feminine dresses and tops that are oriental in style that say 'I'm a girl and I love Asia!' How annoyed she is that her favourite kimono style dress that she is wearing in the photo on the sidebar is now too small. It is by Mini Minors and to find another like this in a bigger size will be quite a challenge. As it is for all mothers who do not want their young daughters to dress like 'The Veronicas' - wake up Target!

Of course she is changing. Growing with all the signs that womanly hormones have kicked into action. It is a time when greater patience on my part is needed and gentle guidance. Childhood is still hanging around and I don't mind that - she still loves to play and construct shelters in the bush with her brother and younger sisters. But she also likes to be given greater responsibilities - to be trusted with cooking dinner for the family sometimes. And time by herself to read and dream big dreams.

Dreams which involve a country that have been inspired by books and her heroes and heroines such as Gladys Aylward. How delighted she was when I handed her a DVD I had just found at a garage sale shortly before her birthday. 'The Inn of Sixth Happiness' is a 1950's movie featuring Ingrid Bergman which tells some of the adventures of the missionary Gladys Aylward - we all sat down as a family and watched her movie. And our daughter filled us in on the aspects of the story that the film had missed or glamourized.

It's time to close this post (I have to take her to her Mandarin lesson soon) and conclude my thoughts on raising a daughter who is 'tenderly thirteen'. A daughter with a different spirit who cares little for the pop culture that is besieging her generation. Who is as frustrated as her mother sometimes that stores such as Target offer her little or no choice when it is time to shop for a new outfit. Who wishes her mother would start trying Kylie Kwong's recipes! And redecorate the house with screens, silk drapes, cherry blossom and lotus flowers!

May God bless you as you tend to your garden/family this week.

With Love and Joy,

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A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Ann you have got the gift of really "getting it" as a Mum!
Happy (belated) birthday wishes to your gorgeous girl.
I am so thrilled she got a special lunch out with you...It does look delish.
And wow what a birthday cake!!!
My Brother once ran a shop that did small portions of adulty menus and healthy lunch boxes for kids that came with the "toy"
I often buy entrees for my kids as they too get over things crumbed or battered!

Renata said...

Happy Birthday to your beautiful daughter - what a precious age & you have described it perfectly. I love the mother/daughter lunch - what a special memory she will have of becoming a teenager.
I'd better head to bed now, but just wanted to quickly read your post beforehand.
Have a good night
Renata :)

Suzanne said...

What a beautiful tribute to your precious daughter! And that is one of our favourite movies too!

Farming On Faith said...

Oh my what a beauty. Happy belated Birthday.
What a great day and that cake is gorgeous!

SF said...

What a beautiful post, Ann. :) Thank you for sharing your celebrations with us!! And yes, that cake is a masterpiece. xxx

Camille said...

What a beautiful post Ann! Such a lovely thirteen year old girl! Happiest of birthdays to her!

I think it's wonderful that you did that special lunch out. AND I agree with you on the tender plant analogy and the immodest dress happening all around us...how lovely that she sees it and is resisting its influence. Such blessings!

Have a lovely day!


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