What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I asked my daughter Juliana one day. “I want to be a rock star!” she said emphatically with a toothless grin. That was three years ago. Now that she’s seven years old, that dream is still alive. She still wants to be a rock star. Like Avril Lavigne, she says.
I always thought she would want to have a big party, like the first two she had, but up until two weeks before her 7th birthday she did not want anything like that. In fact, she did not want anything close to a party at all. She said all she wanted was to blow her candles on a birthday cake and go to the mall and buy rock-star clothes.
A week before her special day she changed her mind. She said she had decided on a photo shoot instead — at Blow Up Babies in Serendra. She had it all figured out. Apparently, five of her closest friends also wanted to be rock stars and they wanted to live out their fantasy, if only for a day.
Two years ago she had a photo shoot at Blow Up Babies and they turned her into a flapper girl for one layout and a ballerina in the next. She loved the experience so much and at that moment I realized once again just how much little girls really love to play dress-up, perhaps even more than adults do.
I remembered how I loved to play dress-up myself and one of my fondest childhood memories was doing just that. Mommy and daddy had a party to go to and we were left under my late Tita Liclic’s care who was then visiting from Cebu with her daughter Johanna. Forever fun to be with, she was always the first to initiate playtime and we loved that she never had rules. We could stay up past our bedtime, we could use real cutlery when we played “cooking-cooking,” we could skip dinner and just gorge on junk food, hotdogs and candy, we could watch all the horror movies we wanted to and stay up till sunrise.
That was Tita Liclic: absolutely no rules. Your rule was the rule. That night she allowed us to play with real makeup. Well, it started that way but then she took over and made us up. Hours later — in blue eye shadow, pink blush and bright red lipstick — my sister Caren, my cousin Johanna and I were in my mom’s high heels.
For clothes we had on mommy’s half-slips. I remember the plastic yellow gift ribbons that she snaked and crisscrossed around our arms and legs and the only photo we have of that night shows the three of us looking very much like Spartans/gladiators in the guest room of our home on Bonifacio St., smiling happily into the camera.
We were little girls believing with all our heart that dressing all grownup was enough to make us exactly that.
Anyway, that is another story altogether.
For now allow me to marvel about how times have changed. Our parties then were all about prim party dresses, lace-trimmed socks and shiny-as-nail-polish patent shoes. The cakes would either be simply square, round or rectangular, covered in butter cream icing and with a crude ceramic doll on top, and for giveaways we would have little bags of candies or an assortment of chocolate coins and little toys from the pabitin and piñatas.
Now the kids want gatherings with a theme. Before, it was a the-more-the-merrier kind of party; today it’s all about tight little circles where the giveaways are decidedly more elaborate but not necessarily more expensive.
“How many little girls will you bring along, Juliana?”
“Just five, mommy.”
But days before the Saturday when it was all going to happen, I found out that she had invited whoever she met or talked to in that week-long span so there was a total of about 20 kids on her list already. Everything had to be rushed because it was going to be quite a party after all!
The kids were asked to come in their rock star outfits and her Tita Cristalle took care of the giveaways, black bags that looked like guitars, stuffed with rock-star accessories like cocktail rings, necklaces and bracelets with black beads, rhinestone dangling and stud earrings, pearls (yes, rock stars wear pearls!), badges, lots of bling! All this they used as props.
I lined their eyes with thick black liner, rubbed pale pink lipstick on their lips, dabbed shimmer powder on their cheeks. Aside from what they had on, they had a blast going through the costumes and accessories at Blow Up Babies, going crazy with the outrageous wigs, hats, feather boas and a hodge-podge of bling available there.
At first they were a bit stiff, shy even, hesitant to shout or say “yo” or “yey” or whatever it is that rock stars say when they pose in front of the camera. But the staff at Blow Up Babies excellently dealt with their apprehensions and in no time at all the kids were rockin’. They had such a good time we practically had to drag them out of the studio to bring them down to Marta’s where they were going to be kids again, decorating mini cakes and cookies, while enjoying snacks and old-fashioned thick milkshakes served in chunky glasses.
Marta made a guitar shaped pound cake (the best pound cake I have tried in my life!) that my daughter adored. She was happy, her guests were happy and Richard and I were happy that everybody was happy.
At home that night, I ate more of the pound cake. And almost every other week thereafter I would ask the driver to buy me pound cake from Marta’s. He comes home with the cupcake version. Whenever Richard goes to Makati he knows I will be doubly happy to see him back home with a pound cake from Marta’s as pasalubong. That is my favorite for now. As I write this I am again craving for pound cake and I know I will ask the driver to get me some tomorrow. You must try it yourself. It is delicious.
Meanwhile, my seven-year-old rock-star daughter who dreams of being a rock star when she grows up still talks about the party she had at Blow Up Babies.
She says that when she turns 18 she wants to have another rock star party there.