Yesterday morning Charlie woke up and asked if this was the day he and his friend were to play their violins at preschool for show and tell. I said no, that this was his fourth birthday—the day he’s been waiting for for at least the last four months. Then I asked him what it felt like to be four, and he told me that he was still three. I asked him when would he turn four and he said that he’d turn four when he ate his cake at school.
I asked, “Cake? CAKE?! You mean Star Wars fruit chews? [You mean, I’ve asked you for weeks if you wanted me to make a treat to take to school on your birthday—maybe a cake, cookies, cupcakes, or something like Rice Krispie bars?—but you said, repeatedly, that you wanted fruit chews.] As in, the jumbo box containing 36 packs of Star Wars-shaped fruit-flavored gummies that you chose at the grocery store two days ago [and now at 6 o’clock on the morning of your birthday you tell me you’re expecting a CAKE!?!]?
On principle, I generally buy the kids’ birthday cakes from the grocery store, with their neon frosting they’re an efficient means to the big-eyed wow response, and I like the taste and texture of store bought cakes, a consistently dense, but buoyant, moist chocolate that seems particular to grocery store bakeries, but this time I thought I’d make a birthday cake, and from scratch. I mean, an orange Life Saver-flavored angel food race track cake with blue icing should be easy to make, right? It shouldn’t sag in the middle, come out half as tall as it should, or be kinda syrupy sweet and sour at the same time, right? And it should be really easy to write “Happy Birthday Charlie” in orange frosting and “r” comes after “i” in “birthday,” right? And two small boys will clearly provide lots of help in the kitchen and will not start a wrestling match over who gets to ride the big wheel through the living room while I’m trying to frost the cake before all of the blue icing dries up, right? And it’s totally ok to decorate the cake with stickers as long as no child ingests said stickers, right? And the birthday boy will totally notice and deeply appreciate that the flame on the blue candles is blue, too, right?
Next time, I do what my mother would’ve done and stick with store bought, or bake from the box.