This week the usual day to day objects - homework, moulding apricots, to-do notes and the bits and pieces one* never knows what to do with, were removed and the table was scrubbed and made ready for the traditional birthday table. A collection of missives from various Elder stateswomen were at the centre. Letters and cards, wise words and bon mots from Great Aunts, Grandmothers and others brought a sense of worth and belonging to the occasion. The neat, delicate and florid handwritings, next to stamps of Kookaburras and ‘Par Avion’, the carefully chosen words, that confirm connection and celebrate, remind us of our strong culture and history across continents.
These sat next to the heady scented roses from the yard, picked fresh that morning, which sat quietly next to a contented (and yummy) looking chocolate rabbit and other gifts. The table was completed with a pot of tea and fresh pancakes served with strawberries and cream, lemon and maple syrup. Disconcertingly a birthday card from the Electoral Commission reminded The Teenager to enrol to vote. They’ve got her number already! Another rite of passage, or an alarming intrusion by Big Brother?
The rituals continued. The Numbawan Aunt rang and streamed Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday down the phone and we danced around until the dining room was Hotter than July. I recounted the oft** repeated story of how The Teenager was considerate enough to be born in time for me to watch Wheel of Fortune(bring back Burgo).
Technically The Teenager turn 17 at 5.07pm. The thought was relished. There was enough time to watch Sixteen Candles after school one last time before turning 17. Pancakes were scoffed, a few were wrapped up for lunch and we headed out the door. (Later I was told pancakes, three hash brown and chocolate cakes were eaten for lunch. Not bad birthday fare, really).
Seventeen is so much cooler than sixteen. Sixteen has too many connotations of bad songs written by wrong old men. Seventeen is not as hung up as sixteen. Sixteen has so much riding on it. So much pressure to be this or that. Sweet. Or not. While there are still dodgy songs Seventeen is more about settling in to your own skin. Seventeen rolls nicely off the tongue, even in German (Siebzehn). Sinuous but not serpentine. It has its own sense of self.
Not to say it’s been a straightforward birth and everything is settled. All this week tongues have raged and minds have clashed. Angst about who should do what and how and when. The pushing and pulling from dependence to independence. Looks quite neat on the page, but off its a ragged-edged wound that is constantly worried and requiring attention.An Italian restaurant was chosen to reflect The Teenager’s wish for maturity (not the regular, with the favourite spaghetti de la Nonna that has served so well until now) and comes replete with an appearance by Mick Gatto much to the titillation of a self confessed ‘crime-slag’ Aunt. Goodbye childhood. A satiating meal of figs wrapped with prosciutto and gorgonzola, Coniglio, Scallopini, and Prosecco. Followed by an awesomely gooey chocolate cake baked fresh by another Aunt and covered with raspberries and served with ice-cream. Yum.
The birthday festival is rounded off by a chocolate tour of Melbourne’s laneways, graced with another celebrity spotting, some dude from Think You Can Dance. The Teenager, walks on, unfazed. Much the same reaction as elicited by Mick Gatto. See? Seventeen is cool.
|Chocolate tour evidence|
Birthday festival closing thoughts on being 17 from the source: ‘Whatever. It’s just one step closer to the grave’. Not original, but much cooler than “OMG I’m totes in love with Edward Cullen!”***
* DISCLAIMER: The Teenager’s grammar, not mine
**DISCLAIMER: My choice of word, not The Teenager’s
***DISCLAIMER: This statement did not and never will pass the lips of The Teenager in question