We attended our son’s Cub Scout “Blue and Gold” banquet this week. I brought an extra large crockpot device full of red sauce pasta with sausage to the local elementary school. I felt like a mid-Western sahm in ways I had never before experienced.
A few days prior, my husband informed me that the children of my son’s den were to create a dessert for this event. They would get together at our house the evening before and make it themselves.
“It’s all about the kids learning to do it themselves,” he said.
In a sort of off-hand way, he told me that two of the other mothers (who I know, of course) had said they have an AWESOME idea for THEIR den, but it was a secret.
Oh, come now. You don’t say such things to your ultra-competitive wife. It was simply a cruel thing to say. Now, I would have to restrain myself. (Yes, I bet my husband knew what he was doing.)
I came up with an idea.
We would go with a pinewood derby theme. The kids would each make a ‘car cupcake.’ I happen to have a ‘car cupcake’ pan, so that was too easy. That’s what we did. I made some cakes ahead of time, but my husband had the boys make cake from scratch. While theirs were in the oven, I pulled out my already-cooled-off cakes for them to decorate, FoodNetwork style. We had fun candies and spray frosting – the kids did it all themselves.
For the sake of presentation, the kids drew their own “race track” on poster board on which to place the cars. Perfect.
I was feeling a little guilty about it, but I went ahead and made a sheet cake for the centerpiece from the leftover cupcake batter. The checkered flag and tassels in the picture are all made out of fondant. I tried to keep it simple. I restrained myself. This was all about the kids. We let them be creative and messy. I sat on my hands while they worked.
We quickly set up the dessert at the elementary school, and went to sit down. One of the mothers I knew came in with fruit. Fruit?
It felt like a good fifteen or twenty minutes that those three or four parents were working on constructing this elaborate fruit display. Seriously. This thing had several levels, fondant snakes, dirt cake for dirt – impressive for sure.
I tried not to watch. My brain had this argument.
“Don’t be competitive!”
“Oh, well, it’s fruit, and the parents are doing it. It should have been about the kids.”
“Don’t be so competitive! You are such a child.”
“There are fruit flowers! What, is this the girl scouts? Seriously.”
“Stop it. Who cares?”
“I wonder if the kids were really involved in that.”
“Sour grapes. Get over it.”
Thank goodness, I thought. I could restrain myself. I’ve recognized my competitiveness and overcome it. I’m a good mom. And then, one of the dads from our den leaned over.
“That’s a pretty nice display there, I think they showed us up.”
“Yeah, well, the gloves are coming off next year,” I nodded slowly.
Well, not really. It will be all about the kids next year too. And, next year, I will squirm in my seat just as much as I did this year. It is just who I am.