I ruined another birthday cake. (Stacey v. Quinn’s Birthday Cake, 203 Anymommy (Aug. 2011) (this citation meant only to amuse my lawyer friends.) I must have some sort of cake mental block. Hello? McFly? If you flip the cake too early, it breaks apart and crumbles and the result is a pile of cake crumbs and not a nice neat block of frostable cake.
I flipped the damn thing too early and it broke. Then, I flipped it back because – FU.CK! – and that marginally restored things to subpar, which I could live with, except for the huge hole in the middle.
Crying over broken cake seemed plausible, but I’d already cried more than strictly necessary on Friday about the stack of completely incomprehensible insurance rejections for my “delivery” and a phone call from the hospital congratulating me on my new baby, but um sorry, your insurance is messed up and you owe us something like 20,000 dollars. Give or take. Let us know how you want to pay that. (We have good insurance and we’re lucky and they are helping me and it will be resolved, but still arrrrgggghhh.)
I stood beside the counter staring at the disaster of a cake, thinking how everything, EVERYTHING, felt off. Wrong. Ill-fitting. Dank. Nate threw this massive tantrum in front of the elementary school the previous day because he didn’t want to walk and I needed him to walk. He’s heavy and I can only carry him so far and I forgot the stroller and it was all offity off off-al. He absolutely refused to take the final twenty steps to stand beside me and I absolutely refused – much like my three year old – to go and get him.
My giant baby (the actual baby, not me) hunkered down and screamed himself red in the face with hundreds of kids and parents and aides and teachers watching him. “No walking. NO WALKING. I DON’T LIKE WALKING,” he wailed while I stood steps away and ignored him. I knelt down after a bit and held out my hand, something I often offer the kids when they are melting down. “Hold my hand, nay-nay, come and stand with me,” but he knew I was irritated, my heart wasn’t in it and he refused.
He’s rarely stubborn. He usually wants only a hand to hold when he’s upset. It was the worst kind of pointless power struggle and I had nothing. I don’t have it lately, whatever “it” is, and the kids and the baked goods know it. They smell weakness.
We left the cake where it sat Friday afternoon and walked to school with Elise and the stroller, kicking leaves and collecting buckeyes. The sun felt good on our shoulders. Quinn chittered about his field trip and chased squirrels. I brought lollipops for Garrett to share with his friends and when the bell rang we argued about colors and wished him a happy birthday. Elise and I weaved through the congestion on the sidewalk, deep in conversation, winding around kids with backpacks and chatting groups of parents, and fielding endless questions that our herd of children mumbled around their sticky treats. Briefly left behind, Nate screeched piercingly into the crowd. I didn’t slow or break my sentence, I just maneuvered the stroller with my left hand, dropped my right hand behind me and wiggled my fingers.
I felt his soft, slightly sticky little hand slide into mine and I smiled. I drop balls all over the place, but for the most part, in my own way, I’ve got this.
Sinkhole cake. The candles are street lights. I know, RIGHT? Genius. I am the queen of destroyed cakes. Please ignore my right boob.