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Countdown to the Birthday Challenge

I adore making and decorating cakes and there’s nothing I love better than making a masterpiece for someone I love.  Mostly.  Enter my darling little boy, with whom I share a mother/son bond that I never thought possible.  He’s such a great kid and loves nothing better (or so he says) than his mama.  Except for about a month each year, from mid-February to March 7.

March 7 is my little guy’s birthday and every year I spend weeks planning his birthday cake.  I also spend those weeks wondering why my kid hates me so much.  You see, both my kids get the opportunity to pick any kind of cake they like and I will make it happen.  This has always worked out well for my daughter, who has simple tastes and reasonable demands.  The boy, on the other hand, transforms into an evil Iron Chef Chairman with a glint in his eye and a bell pepper in his hand.  His words, every single stinkin’ year are, “I want to challenge you, Mom.”  Challenge?  No.  What he wants to do is to break me.  He wants to see me crying into my fondant at 2am. He wants to hear me say, “I can’t do that.”  Apparently, what he wants is a Walmart cake with plastic crap on top of it, because that’s what he’s going to get if this nonsense continues.

March 7, 2007. The cake that started it all.

When he turned five, I was in the midst of dealing with a wretched back injury.  I had surgery about 3 days before his birthday party, which seems like terrible timing, but here’s the thing.  I was all but bedridden in the weeks leading up to his birthday.  I had absolutely nothing to do with myself except make scads of little video game characters out of fondant and gumpaste.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to do much with the actual cake, so I made fondant figures to beat the band, counting on them to make that cake shine.  I can see my mistake now.  Never again would I have that kind of time to devote to a cake, but there I go setting the bar sky-high.  I may never match this masterpiece, although my little dictator is determined to force my hand in the matter. 

March 7, 2008. The year I wanted to strangle my baby.

The next year, I was stricken with a flu that I was convinced would bring my demise.  I was so sick that I had to postpone his birthday party, which brought its own special kind of guilt.  In deference to my condition and the desire to keep my distance from any foodstuffs, I bought plastic toys to plop on his Pokemon cake.  That’s right, I did it and there is no shame in my game.  I can’t let this go without mentioning that the little Hitler watched me assemble this cake.  I mean, he was standing RIGHT BESIDE ME while I did it.  Then, when it was time to light candles at the party, he whispered in my ear, “The Pokeball is upside down.”  I have no words, only the cry of outrage in my head and my hands twitching at his throat.

March 7, 2009. My hatred for Bowser is second only to my feelings about Peach's hair.

On to his seventh birthday, when a request for another Mario cake brought me a feeling of relief.  At least this is familiar ground.  I’ve done this star-loving little plumber before, this should be easy, right?  Just wondering, when was the last time you piped a thousand tiny lines to simulate bricks and thought to yourself, oh hey, this is easy AND fun?  Yeah, me, too.  This was also the year I swore that Bowser is, in fact, an evil monster and I’ll never tangle with the spiky bastard again.

March 7, 2010. I know Sonic is jacked up. You would be, too, if your legs were made of toothpicks.

Nearing his eighth birthday, my little angel requested a Bakugan cake.  I don’t know if you’re familiar with Bakugan, but they’re little balls that pop open to reveal monster/robot things.  So, he wanted the little balls, you ask?  Oh, no, indeed.  He wanted them opened up.  He wanted me to craft these tiny and intricate figures out of gumpaste.  In what can only be described as my Hail Mary play, the week before his birthday, I convinced him that SuperSmash Bros. would be way cooler.  I don’t think he was convinced by my argument, but I think some small part of him understood that I was putting my foot down on the Bakugan, so to speak.  Well, I have literally put my foot down on them, as well, since they are all over the floor, but that’s another story.

March 7, 2010. This image still stings.

Now, I seem to have not saved a picture of his cake last year.  I painstakingly duplicated the cover of the Pokemon Black and White collector’s edition book, as shown above, thanks to nerdliving.net.  I was up half the night, freehanding those images that make no sense to my brain.  When he woke the next morning and I proudly showed him my hard work, he pronounced it, “okay.”  Yes, I cried.  He made me cry, probably not on purpose, but if you’re going to call my cake, “okay,” you may as well throw acid on me.  With my husband’s gentle guidance, I was able to make some Pokemon-friendly changes and the cake was better than okay by the time we served it.  But, still.

Throughout this long recounting of birthdays, it may have occurred to you that March 7 is upon us.  I assure you, the challenge has been issued.  It’s going to be a Star Wars year which means the little dictator has his father on his side and boy-howdy, don’t those two have some big ideas.  I have generously offered to make a Death Star cake, surrounded by X-wings and Tie Fighters.  Nice, right?  “But Mom, to challenge you, I want you to add Anakin and Darth Maul in a lightsaber duel.”

Why does he hate me?

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