I got to fine-tune my design (yes, I sound like such a snob--I know!!) and get them looking exactly how I wanted them to look. Am I weird if I enjoyed every minute of it from the assembly line of marshmallow eyes to the strategic placement of each Rex on the cupcake tree?
I thought this one looked a little like Marie
My Party Favor I brought with me to Ethan's class:
I was the epitome of the Zen-mother as I made Ethan's birthday cupcakes this year. Smooth and slow was my MO. The universe hummed around me in an even cadence as I moved from oven to countertop to classroom.
I wouldn't let the slightest jumble occur in my thoughts or movements as I slid spikes into place and piped sharp teeth around smiling lips. Zen. . . zen. . . zen was all that surrounded me as I was one with my kitchen and my cupcakes.
Okay, I'll stop.
Why all the freaky-Zen-obsession? Now I will launch into a tale so grotesque and so unimaginable that your hands will clap over your mouth when you get to the grand finale.
Let me take you back to last year. But, dear reader, you must understand that as we take this backward journey together, that it has taken me a full year to get to the point that I can share this tale with you. Please forgive me in advance for what I am about to share, and don't let it mar how you see me as a mother.
Ethan's birthday is on September 15th, and we celebrate it as the day when Ethan emerged upside-down. It was the year 2000 when, after 8+ hours of natural labor, the Doctor reached in (such a euphemism!) to discover that what he had thought was Ethan's cranium was indeed his hind-end. We tease Ethan about wanting to come into the world showing his derriere and he gets a good chuckle out of it every year without fail.
Last year on the evening of September 14th Caleb lost his first tooth. It was a momentous event, which I missed because I was at my office slaving away over a hot photocopier until after the kids had gone to bed. Eric told me about Caleb's tooth when I got home, and then we went to bed.
The next morning, I was a frenzied wreck, mentally living out everything on my to do list and realizing that the day wouldn't provide all of the time I needed. But, being the compulsive, unrealistic party planner that I am, I was convinced that I would be able to get the kids off to school on time, make a birthday treat for Ethan's class, prepare for my own class and then arrive on campus looking sleek and polished at exactly 12:43, with two minutes to spare before I launched into an inspirational feast that would leave both of my classes impressed and academically satisfied.
I could do it, right?
Before Ethan left for school, he asked me to please make Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes for his class. I sighed, and being the darn pleaser that I am, I said yes. Eric's dad was staying with us, and graciously offered to go to the store to pick up cones while I whipped up the cake batter.
He returned from the store and then stood back as I whirling-dervished my way around the kitchen like some caffeinated version of Julia Childs, batter and sprinkles flying everywhere. Wanting the cupcakes to look super professional, I piped graceful strands of frosting on each one and then speckled them with colorful sprinkles, even arranging the ones that weren't symmetrical. I looked at the clock and praised myself because I had time to spare.
I kept thinking to myself, "Wow, Sarah! You CAN do it all! Look at you!" I basked in the warm shower of compliments I was heaping upon my own ego as I wrapped a box in festive wrapping paper and garnished it with tissue paper, placing the cupcakes inside like some birthday miracle.
I dressed Eve in a cupcake-themed ensemble and tied her hair up with a rainbow of curly ribbons, and all the while my thoughts were pelting me with praise: "Sarah, you really CAN do it all!" (You know comes before the fall, right? Just checking.)
Here they are, in all of their Martha Stewart-like glory. YUM.
Eve, Peter, Marie, and I took the cupcakes to Ethan's class and dropped them off, and then I came home, fed the kids lunch, and still sauntered into class with time to spare. Like I said. I could do it all. Yippee for me!
When Eric picked me up after class, I was still on bask-overdrive. Class had been great. I had been witty and funny and so full of myself. About half-way to the car, Eric raised his eyebrows at me and grinned.
"What?" I said, knowing there was something behind that look. It was obvious he was savoring a well-thought-out jibe.
"So, Sarah. . . " He paused and smiled, "I hear your cupcakes had quite a bite ." He paused, still holding onto that silly, expectant grin.
"What do you mean?" I asked, my mind whirling back to my mad-morning-rush in the kitchen. Cayenne? Did I put cayenne in the cupcakes? Did tabasco sauce get into the batter? How did the cupcakes get spicy? "I don't get it, " I finally said.
Relishing every word, Eric then told me about how Ethan had come home from school, breathless and excited, and had rushed up to him to announce that, "Caleb's tooth was in one of my birthday cupcakes!!!"
Unbelievable, right? Unfathomable, huh? There is absolutely NO WAY Caleb's tooth could have made it into my cupcakes.
Eric told him this, and Ethan protested, "No, Dad! A girl in my class was eating one of the cupcakes and she found something hard in her mouth! She pulled it out and it was a TOOTH!"
Eric paternally shook his head. "Ethan, I'm sure the girl just lost her own tooth. There's no way that was Caleb's tooth in her cupcake. Don't be silly."
"But, Dad! My teacher and I looked in her mouth and she hadn't lost any teeth! I told my teacher that my brother lost a tooth last night, so she gave it to me and I brought it home in a bag." He held up a ziplock bag containing a tiny tooth with frosting still on it as evidence.
When asked what the poor tooth-inflicted classmate had done when she found the tiny treasure in her mouth, Ethan said, "Well, she just licked it off and laughed and then kept eating her cupcake!" EEEEEWWWWW. . .
Even with the disgusting evidence before him, Eric kept arguing about the implausibility of Caleb's tooth ending up in the cupcakes. But Ethan insisted it was the tooth, I mean, truth.
Finally, Eric said, "Okay, Ethan. . . how did Caleb's tooth get in the cupcakes?" Ethan drew a blank.
Then suddenly, Holden gasped and said, "Wait! Wait! The frosting! Mom used a Ziplock bag to put the frosting on the cupcakes! And Caleb saved his tooth in a Ziplock bag last night so he could show it to Mom!" They all ran to the kitchen and stopped, open-mouthed in front of the container of frosting that had the clear plastic culprit still peeking guiltily out of the top.
Eric and the boys looked at Caleb, who said sheepishly, "I left the bag in the kitchen so Mom could see my tooth."
Laughter exploded and my sweet boys grabbed their guts and struggled to breathe.
Then Ethan offered the line of the day:
"This is the BEST birthday ever!!!"
As Eric recounted the horrible details to me as we sat in the car, I was breathless, having had my super-sized ego deflated in a matter of a few very painful seconds.
"But. . . why. . . why would Caleb put the bag back in the drawer? I got it from the drawer where I keep the bags." I was nearly crying with shame. . . and horror. "The toothcakes, I mean, cupcakes were so pretty. . . " my voice trailed off.
By the time we got home, I was laughing about it, saying, "Well, we'll just call them my Cupcakes Al Dente."
Even as I laughed about it, I thought : I can never, ever share this story. What will people think of me?
And yet today, exactly one year later, my shame is being broadcast over the net-waves. . . by ME.
That's why all of the Zen today. I was fighting tooth and nail to save myself from the self-imposed embarrassment of last year.
Today when I calmly strode into Ethan's third-grade classroom with my tower of T-Rexes, a blonde girl with glasses rushed up to me and said, "Did you know that last year Caleb's tooth was in Ethan's cupcakes?"
Yes. . . Yes. . . As a matter of fact I did know that.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ETHAN!!! (And for some reason, I feel like I should raise my lips in the air and start singing "Loo, looo, loo" to "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," while my beagle skips in the background.)