Monday, April 19, 2010

Ace of Cakes, I'm Not

Hannah's birthday is coming up, and as soon as I can get over the fact that my firstborn is turning 7, (7!), I can pick my jaw up off the floor and proceed with party planning.

We have only done the family thing thus far, which is awesome, because I don't have to worry about protecting the grandfather clock or wood floors or freshly polished sconces when they're around, like you might have to with a house full of 6-7 year olds. Pop-pop won't be chucking toys in the living room and Nani won't be making deep tracks in the floor by pushing down too hard on the vintage Matchbox cars.

You think I'm kidding about protecting things? I'm married to a conservationist. This guy is down at Nemours making things pretty again on a daily basis, or at the Rodin Museum, or gussying up Joan of Arc. Stuff matters to him. So kids, in a lot of ways, are kind of like his nemesis. Well, kids, and time and the elements and such.

But, I can't blame it all on conservation. It kind of makes my insides shrivel up and die simply thinking about planning games for a group of children. Chaos makes my head spin. It's not my thing, and I think it's good that I can admit that to myself. Luckily, both my kids feel exactly the same way about chaos. It's quite convenient.

This is the first year, however, that Hannah has asked about a friend party. Specifically, she wants it at a bowling alley with everyone. EVERYONE. At least I wouldn't have to plan any games, because...hello...bowling, but still....hello...cash money. The kids party business is a racket.

And I'd feel weird about her getting that many presents. We have too much shit as it is. I'm not eager to add to the pile.

Family inquires, and thus we can steer presents in an appropriate direction: clothes, or a Magic Tree House boxed set, a DS game or craft kits. But with friends? Who knows. Suddenly you have a set of iCarly DVDs where there is kissing (kissing!) or a Twilight beach towel that has Edward stalking Bella. I'm like, look at the pretty paper dolls, and everyone else is already letting their kids get a taste of vampire desire. I don't think vampire desire is appropriate until at least 21, right? Nothing has turned me into a prude quite as quickly as parenthood.

I also profess confusion at her particular cake wish. Here's a taste of a conversation we had about it fairly recently:

Me: Hannah, your birthday is coming up...

Hannah: I know, it's in 45 days exactly.

Me: How'd you know that?

Hannah: I'm keeping track with my calendar.

Me: 45 days exactly?

Hannah: Yep.

Me: Okay, well, you need to start thinking about what kind of cake you want me to make.

Hannah: I want a dolphin cake.

Me: What? Dolphins?

Hannah: Yeah, I love dolphins.

Me: Well, they're very cool creatures, but.....

Hannah: Why can't I have a dolphin cake?

Me: I didn't say you couldn't have one, I'm just a little confused. I've never heard you speak of dolphins before...

Hannah: I really like dolphins!

Me: ....you have no books on dolphins, no stuffed dolphin toys, no dolphin posters...

Hannah: Mom?!?!

Me: ...no dolphin movies, no bookmarked dolphin websites, no dolphin coloring books....

Seriously, the dolphin bit completely came out of left field, and I tried mightily last night to convince her that this Joy the Baker cake would be preferable:

http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2010/04/big-berry-birthday-cake/

Click on it, it's so pretty! And it has berries, and frosting with a scraped vanilla bean in it. Oh, yum!

But I also realize that kids don't consider a birthday cake a cake unless it has some Blue #40 or Red #20 on it, and also a crapload of sprinkles. And if I'm not going to do a friend party, I should at least find a way to make the dolphin cake a reality.

And I suppose, even if after the last crumb of cake is finished, she never mentions dolphins again, it will have been worth it.

10 comments:

Rima said...

I feel the same way about kids' birthday parties. (My son's is coming up, too, but he is turning four so family are still his "best friends.")

We had eight little girls over for my daughter's 6th birthday party in October and I went all out with a costumes, a craft and party games. Later I drank an entire bottle of wine and passed out.

MemeGRL said...

We had the four year old's birthday party at a bowling alley and LOVED LOVED LOVED it. No need to worry about games to keep them entertained. Food and drinks were provided. (I brought extra and healthier snacks and cake.) Grownups stayed (we got an extra lane for them) and had fun too.
And--go to Oriental Traders or something and order dolphin toys for on top of the cake. Blue cake + toy dolphins=problem solved. (That's how we managed a Star Wars cake here.) If you want details email me. But you are lucking out, my friend. This is the best, easiest party ever.

de said...

Would she like a practically life-sized stuffed dolphin? Because I could send a gently-loved one that I bought for some now-hazy reason even though there is a permanent ban on stuffed animals in our house.

It should be fine. I won't tell you a thing about my daughter's bowling party.

cheekyketek said...

You're going to make a dolphin cake? I'm super impressed.

But if Hannah is anything like my girls, she'll be all dolphins!dolphins! until 3 days before the party and then suddenly she'll MUST HAVE a Barbie cake or a set of Bakugans or something.

Gwen

Lora said...

I can't get passed the part about you having a seven year old. But, it was the gift thing that stuck out for me most. The things that people think are appropriate for a child are just mind blowing.

Magpie said...

Oh! Like De, I have a stuffed dolphin. You'll have twins!

I ask what kind of cake, but I've never had to make a shape. It's just a flavor thing.

Gifts? I roll my eyes at some of the things that have entered my house...

Monica said...

Right on about the gifts. I hate not having control over what comes into the house and into the kids lives.

OK, if you're gonna make a dolphin cake, here's a suggestion. Make the biggest flat cake you can. Draw (or find an outline online) of a dolphin that will cover the largest surface of your cake, so you can waste the least of the cake. Pop the cake out of the pan, and FREEZE THE CAKE. Once it's frozen, place the cutout dolphin outline on top of it and cut if out. Frosting it is also much easier when it's frozen.

I am not much of a cake maker, but I did this method to make a guitar shaped cake, and felt like Martha-frickin'-Stewart because it came out so well.

Also, we've been to lots of bowling parties and the parent/hosts always say how easy it is and how much they like it for that reason...but I can't stay at those parties because the noise is so hard for me. I could NOT host a party at a bowling alley...the noise would kill me. Given the fact that I live with 5 noisy children, that's sayin' somethin.

Good luck!

Meredith said...

Yes, Monica is correct- it is much easier to shape a cake frozen. Go to www.cakecentral.com and do a search for dolphin under the galleries. Over 300 cakes came up. Sometimes seeing other ideas helps. Oh, and you can call me with any questions!

Amanda said...

I had a panda cake for my third birthday. It was an obnoxious, ripply, bulbous monstrosity. When I look at those pictures I imagine it was the best day of my little life. No hint of not having, no trace of sorrow in my mom's face. I am so glad they listened to me and bought me that one cake.

slouchy said...

We just had a bowling party for our 8-year-old son, and it went really well. And wasn't even all that expensive, because we kept the number of guests down.

As for friends' gifts, you may find that moms, when they call to RSVP, ask for guidance re presents, and you'll be able to steer them.

Good luck...

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