Monday, December 6, 2010

Have Cake, Eat Too

The 'almost' in the Boy's (almost) 5 years is (almost) here.  On Thursday this week, he finally turns (drumroll) five.  Three days away.   Lots to do in those three days.  Not for him, mind you.  His only focus this morning while getting shoes on to go to school?  Admiring the fact that there was so much 'cheek water' in his mouth after eating his daily chocolate from the Advent tree.  He hasn't learned the word saliva yet, but apparently, he has a firm grasp through observation of what sugar does to cheek water levels.  

As for me, I have a lot to prepare in the next 72 hours.

Most conversations over the last month on the way to school (other than counting school buses aloud, analyzing the underbelly of passing freight trailers and car carriers, announcing every degree change in the plummeting temperature on the dashboard thermometer, grumbling about how slow the bleeping traffic is moving - oh, wait, that one's me - asking if I have any snacks because he's starving, etc etc) have revolved around what his Birthday Cake will look like.  Since his world began, I have constructed, by hand, a wonderful cake for him, themed after whatever his current fascination was around the time of his annual gala. 

His first cake announcement this year came with the first snow, back in early/mid-November.  (Snow signifies the end of waiting for his birthday, in his anticipatory mind.  Once it snows, bring on the presents).

Dad, I want an engine cake for my birthday.

I smiled into the rearview mirror while waiting for Volvos to merge onto 694.  (why are there so many Volvos in Arden Hills?  And are they actually designed to move this slow, perhaps the boxy aerodynamics?  One would think that with all the touted safety features one boasts about one could manage to be a bit more bold in one's gas pedal usage, eh?  But anyway...)

That should be fun, son!  I can make you an engine cake.  Do you want a steam engine or a diesel engine?  They have pans for this, I could already picture them.

Silly me, assuming that by 'engine' he would mean train engine.  What ever would give me that impression, other than the 17 bazillion train engines he either owns or stares at in magazines? 

Not a TRAIN engine dad.  Just an engine.

An Engine?  You mean like a semi cab?  I could make a semi cab.

No dad.  Just the engine.  The part under the front roof.  A gray one.

O good gravy.   How in the world do you craft a cake - which in my mind ONLY comes in circles, rectangles or pre-purchasable molded pans like last year's tractor -  into an actual engine?  And gray?  Really?  I admit I changed the subject quickly that day (whoa, look how tall that radio tower is!!), but my mind was reeling. Over the course of the next two weeks, whenever the seemingly daily topic of birthday cake planning was broached, he insisted - assumed even - that he was getting an engine cake.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that I could not possibly figure out how to make an engine cake out of a 9x13.  This is it, I thought.  For the first time, my Boy was going to be utterly disappointed with Dad.  I had always figured I had until at least his 13th birthday. 

Thank heavens he is as fleeting as he is imaginative.  After two weeks of insisting on a gunmetal gray engine cake - complete with hoses, batteries, pipes, oil, gas, radiators, iron blocks and real working belts (to use his words) - he announced last Friday that he doesn't want an engine cake anymore he wants a Police Car Cake.  Hallelujah!  They make pans for that! 

After several Are you sure's over the weekend,  I'm now the proud owner of a $12 Cake Pan in the shape of a car.  I've read through all the pitfalls and instructions online for how to make a Police Car cake, I bought the candy accessories and frosting and food coloring and cake mix and Oreo wheels and plastic utensilry to feed the honored guests of Grands and Aunties and Uncles and Cousins.   I figure it's close enough to his birthday where he won't change his mind again, being that he was stuck on Engine Cake for over 2 weeks. 

I'll either eat Police Car cake this Thursday, or eat my words. 

And because I'm pretty dang proud of my efforts in making the Boy a nice cake for his birthday, I've added a picture from Birthday: The Cake,  season 4.  As you can see, I've set the bar rather high for myself.  This took four backbreaking hours to frost and an additional 30 seconds to slice into unrecognizability. 

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