The main times when I really wish we did own a car are when my kids get invited to birthday parties. For their younger years we were fine - they were usually very casual affairs somewhere nearby where we could walk to, and parents were always invited to stay (often enjoying the party far more than the children). But now that two of my children are of school age, parties have been amped up a notch. I totally get why - usually you are under pressure to invite a high number of kids, and entertaining a group of primary schoolchildren for two hours is enough to give anyone nightmares. So instead, people usually choose some venue out on an industrial estate where, for a fairly reasonable price, they will promise to look after the little terrors and celebrate a child growing a year older, so long as you bring the cake and party bags (do NOT forget party bags). Parents are only half-heartedly asked to stay, as while there is space for kids, there is not a great deal of room for adults. If there is, it is usually a small waiting room or an isolated corner of a VERY LOUD ROOM.
Now this is fine and great if you have a car. You can usually draw a deal with some other parents where one of you will drop them off and another will pick them up, and having handed the kids over the parent will usually involuntarily begin to grin like a madman at their short period of freedom.
If you don't have a car, this means studying the Lothian Bus website and Google streetview to figure out which buses to take, what the bus stops look like so that you know when to disembark, and what the actual venue looks like so you know where you are heading to and don't walk the wrong way round a building with the same circumference as Lake Erie dragging the child who is invited and two other children who have to come along anyway now matter how much they complain.
This weekend my son has been fortunate enough to be invited to a tubing party. The lucky kid gets to go on the dry ski slope with 10 of his friends and speed down it on an inner tube at the speed of 100 miles an hour, screaming with delight the entire time. The small drawback is that it is two bus rides away, and then one has to trek up a hill to get to the ski centre. I have done it before in good weather, but as I looked at the weather predicted for today it did not look good. My husband had told me he was going to be in Glasgow for the day, and suddenly I pictured myself on the last stretch, buggy-less, dragging up the kids in wind, hail and sleet and I decided this called for desperate measures.
To be precise, I sent an email to all the other parents who had kids going and asked if any could transport my child there, explaining our lack of wheels. For the first hour after I sent the email, I confess I cursed them all, wondering why they hadn't dropped everything to tell me they would take my precious child. Then the offers came pouring in, the father of the birthday boy even asking if I'd like them to take my son there and back. I cheered, I wept tears of joy...and I got out my pinterest board of baking ideas.
I couldn't offer to return the favour today, but I could offer baked goods at least to the parents willing to chauffeur my offspring. I decided on this recipe, using lime zest as well as lime juice, but there was one little problem: I'm off sugar. When I am making something, especially when I am making it for the first time, I like to taste it to make sure it is ok before giving it to anybody else. Yes, of course I could cheat and have a bite, but that would just be like sticking dynamite next to a dam...once started I wouldn't be able to start - it's all or nothing, really. So I made a batch and made my kids try them.
"Thumbs up!" my son cried.
"Yes, they're ok," my daughter said.
"Do they taste like lime?" I asked.
"Lime?" they both asked.
"Yes, lime! You know, kind of like lemon?" I demanded.
They both shook their heads no and continued chewing. So I juiced another lime and added icing sugar until it looked like an ok consistency for drizzling over the tops and added it on.
My husband, who had ended up not going out of town in the end (I know my son is totally going to rat me out on this, by the way, so I'll need to explain myself next time I see the parents) came shuffling through at this point and decided to give up his lunchtime fasting.
"I'm not feeling well!" he said as he chewed. "I'll start fasting again tomorrow."
"Are they ok?" I asked.
"Mmm...gorgeous..." he replied, then shuffled back to bed.
"Do you taste the lime?" I shouted after him.
So I can't fully endorse this recipe, as I've not actually eaten any, but I've sent them off with the parents anyway (though the dad may have been slightly disappointed as they were in a plastic chocolates tub).
But on a positive note, now that I'm in city car club, kids' parties will be more welcome in my life. I didn't have enough courage (or car seats) to do the journey in one today, fearing that my first ever trip in one of their cars would be too stressful to attempt going to this party, but next time, Gadget...next time...