Monday, 2 May 2011

Nearly nine

Tomorrow Lashes will be nine. Nine years ago I would have been pleading, like the lentil botherer I was, not to be induced, in a boiling hot WC1 basement. Strange how that kind of thing matters absolutely, intensely, for a very short time, and then suddenly doesn't matter at all, because you realise you've been focussing on entirely the wrong thing and holy fuck, now you have a baby to look after, why on earth didn't someone tell you? Nine. Good lord. This inspires many thoughts:

1. Only a year left before, in accordance with the sacred covenant entered into when he was four, he can have his own pet. I can't say I or the CFO are very much looking forward to this, particularly as his enthusiasms currently tend towards the high maintenance and lizardy.

"Are you sure, darling, about a monitor lizard? They are, uh, very large. What about a nice gerbil?"

He looks dreamily into the middle distance, plotting. "Maybe a three horned cameleon? Or one of those Golden Dart Frogs?"

"NOTHING VENOMOUS. We have agreed this already. You cannot renege on the no-venom agreeement".


2. He is huge. Colossal. Barely a head shorter than me. His legs are a mile long. If he is anything like me, he has about another year of being vast and lording it over his contemporaries, before he stops growing entirely. His father is barely taller than I am, so I do not fancy his chances of staying vast. However I think he already has better social skills than me, so evolution is clearly good for something. He definitely has his father's terrier like negotiating skills. We are having an eye-wateringly expensive paintballing party (oh joy, small children armed with guns, my favourite thing) but he has already sidled up to me and tried to negotiate to have someone to sleep over on the night.

"Ugh. Lashes. Really? Hmph. Do you have any friends who are NOT loud?"

"Errrr. Maybe a girl?"

"Ha. I do not think that is any guarantee of non-loudness".

"Hmm. I will think. You agree then? "

"I did not say that! Gah".

(The last sleepover nearly broke me. I had to point-blank refuse a direct request for another one from a child last weekend because I could not trust myself not to have a PTSD style breakdown and lock myself in the cellar muttering 'toothpaste in shoes! Toothpaste in shoes!')

3. I have terrible terrible cake anxiety. I feel he has outdone himself in the sadistic cake request stakes this year, with the demand for "Crabzilla, and a spinal column. On the same cake". "Or" he offered with a magnanimous wave of one hand in my direction whilst lying on the floor reading mangas "on two cakes, if that is easier, maman".

As a consequence I am now spending important time which should be spent earning money, thinking about how to achieve the spiny texture and red colour of Crabzilla's legs. I have some giant extra-sour cola flavoured bootlaces, and some Fraises Tagada (wow, the Fraise Tagada has its own Wikipedia page). I am thinking a finely chopped mixture of the two sprinkled on ridges of thick piped icing, perhaps. And what about his face? Does he even have a face?




(I love this picture, incidentally. Look how proud that man is to be holding a giant spider crab. I wish I had job satisfaction like that.)

I don't know if Crabzilla has a face. It has some sort of .. ugh. Business. Gills, and other unpleasantness. I don't know. I estimate he is about 68% leg, 23% unspeakable business, 9% claw.

Here it seems to have a sort of gloomy menacing anime face like thing, sort of.




Despite many previous cake triumphs (well, disasters averted might be more accurate), I'm really not feeling it, this spider crab cake. Emergency cake advice, people? Please?

(Why am I trying to pander to my eccentric eldest child's bizarre request, you might wonder. It's traditional, I suppose. I tried to explain my cake neurosis already here, but in brief, the cake is some kind of ritual demonstration of love, in my twisted reasoning. There are, I think, so many things I do badly as a parent, I try to make sure there is this one constant, something I do right. So I cannot fail. The crab must be at least recognisably crab-like. I am willing to forget about the spinal column, because sanity is precious and should not be wasted on unco-operative fondant icing.)


27 comments:

Lisa-Marie said...

I don't have any advice, but good luck! Also, why is the man not afraid of being munched?!

blackbird said...

Look, in my part of the world we have some form of edible color print machine...so any photo a child likes can be printed on fondant, wrapped around a cake and eaten.

Must you create a 3D crabzilla or can you do a picture of the, uh, little devil?

Anonymous said...

I am sure your cake will be BRILLIANT even for your very demanding team (indiference? NO, apparently they really do care for the cakes!!!.

Beatrice
(to lazy to sign in)

Anonymous said...

Dear Waffle,
I salute your cake-making ambitions! And I know you might nix the spine, but here's a fairly doable candy spine for your consideration:

http://www.thinkfirst.ca/documents/CandySpineRecipe-Final.pdf

Top Bird @ Wee Birdy said...

OK, I've been giving this some thought. What about some kind of store-bought meringue or macaron for crabby's main body bit? You could colour it with orange food dye? Maybe?

I'm actually a bit scared for you and the spinal column. You may have to resort to the modelling potential of marzipan.
But I'm guessing nine year olds don't really have a palate for almondy paste...

Fat Controller said...

No cake advice, but in preparation for the next birthday, try and steer him subtly in the direction of a Corn Snake. They really are beautiful creatures, relatively undemanding (a mouse a week and they're happy, at least for the first three years or so) and not at all dangerous (unless, of course, you happen to be a mouse). Nor do the mouses have to be fresh or alive. They will quite happily eat a thawed out frozen one and you soon get used to frozen mice in the freezer.

Marie said...

Oh My, Crabzilla ! now this one's tricky. I guess the main problem is the color. colored marzipan might be a good idea for you can model it any shape you want and it's only a case of mixing it with th right color but as said before it's no very popular with the young ones.
err, king crab covered carrot cake ? ;) (so sorry,couldn't resist)

In some nightshops,they do sell sour sweets that nine years could mistake for red-orange "legs",maybe you could display them as "legs" around a iced cake or something ? I share your cake concern though and I suppose I owe to my mum making the same absolutely boring cake every year for my birthday and also to this "this I cannot fail" feeling (I may be crap at a lot of parenting skills but i'll be really depressed if my cake is a flop) anyway, happy birthday Lashes and I cross my fingers for that crabzilla cake. I'm sure you'll make wonders!

Marie said...

Oh My, Crabzilla ! now this one's tricky. I guess the main problem is the color. colored marzipan might be a good idea for you can model it any shape you want and it's only a case of mixing it with th right color but as said before it's no very popular with the young ones.
err, king crab covered carrot cake ? ;) (so sorry,couldn't resist)

In some nightshops,they do sell sour sweets that nine years could mistake for red-orange "legs",maybe you could display them as "legs" around a iced cake or something ? I share your cake concern though and I suppose I owe to my mum making the same absolutely boring cake every year for my birthday and also to this "this I cannot fail" feeling (I may be crap at a lot of parenting skills but i'll be really depressed if my cake is a flop) anyway, happy birthday Lashes and I cross my fingers for that crabzilla cake. I'm sure you'll make wonders!

WrathofDawn said...

Pipe cleaners, m'dear. Pipe cleaners and red string licorice. And acting so proud of your efforts that he dasn't utter a word of criticism.

Oh. Wait. That only works when the child is making the cake for the mother.

Close, though.

frau antje said...

I think Patsy said it best when she said, "You are a great mother!"

All that comes to mind are pieces of Brezn stuck together with frosting...rhubarb?...sugar cane?...with a big chunk of cake in the middle? Holy hell. If anyone can do it, you can (but you might want to put toothpaste in their shoes to create a diversion).

momosyllabic said...

Probably far too late to add ideas now, but wouldn't a fortune cookie (do they have such things in Belgium?) look a bit like the pincery mouth parts of a crab, for its face?

Nimble said...

Funny but not very helpful accomplishments by experts.

Alienne said...

Are you sure the pets he wants are actually possible - if he picks an endangered species presumably you could not actually get him one . Attila has always wanted a monkey; in an effort to get her to revise properly/moment of utter madness I said she could have one if she got a B in psychology at AS (she got a U in the first exam, it seemed a safe offer) - now I am waking up in the night sweating with fear. What if she actually does it?

mountainear said...

Most children's cake decorating dilemmas can be solved with liberal use of Cadbury's fingers. Make some articulated muscly limbs with fingers joined with marshmallows and stick 'em into a carved Victoria sponge....spray with orange car paint. Job done.

Anonymous said...

cake + colour problem =

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Dg6RCVJYGDg/S_Cj6XReQTI/AAAAAAAAAUQ/Vu4kbzfHs-g/s1600/023.JPG

= the simple solution

Liberty London Girl said...

Pipecleaners? LLGxx

mousedroppings said...

I have missed you Waffle.

For the past 3 years I have made the cake - I have only allowed colour suggestions from Mouse Brown once (blue). This year my partner has decided that we should alternate cake making. She mistakenly asked Mouse Brown what she would like and supplied a Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake cookbook for her consideration.
The result - the carousel please mama. The book claims that although the cake looks very difficult it is actually very easy, just time consuming. (It also involves the purchase of balsa wood horses).

So I understand the importance of the cake making. Especially now that I have been sidelined.

I like Mountainear's idea of using chocolate fingers to create the shape and then smothering with icing.

Could coloured sugar be of any help?

I do realise this is far too long, but I have only recently discovered your blog and I just love you.

the queen said...

I've heard of meatloaf cakes (look like cake, taste like meatloaf covered in mashed potaoes possibly mixed with cream cheese. So you could serve a shellfish "cake" - maybe a dome of cabbage topped by a cooked whole crab. Children tearing off claws! Arms! Battling with the arms and claws! Then, they could eat the crab. Except for those who keep kosher or are allergic.
Then cupcakes, each with a clean and boiled arrow bone inside, which they could stack when everyone was done.

the queen said...

Marrow bone. Not arrow bone. And mentally close that parentheses while you're at it.

irretrievablybroken said...

I completely get you on the cake thing and have made, or tried to make,among other things, the following cakes, with varying degrees of success:

horseshoe crab
medusa
octopus
solar system
lobster
woodchuck
dandelion
replica of particular school bus
soccer jersey
cactus

I aim to hit the mark with birthday cakes and halloween costumes, and the devil take the rest of it....

Adrian said...

On the plus side, lizards are low maintainance. You only need to feed them once a week and clean their cage once a month, no problem just leaving them for holidays.

kath said...

I had to do a woolly rhino last week. Licorice allsorts make good eyes and indeed allsorts of other body bits, I am sure you could do something with the tube one to make mouthparts.

I like meringue idea. lots of short leg sections glued with buttercream? You could also make it super challenging by making the body a baked alaska.

Anonymous said...

Oh I loved your description of the sleepover that nearly broke you - hilariously, scaringly familiar!
More like a "wakeover" actually.

I first succumbed to pleas for a sleepover party when my eldest was 10, inviting 4 others. They took over the big shared bedroom downstairs, and spent the whole night loudly playing computer games, trying to make birthday present models with glue, wrestling each other "sumo" style while inside their sleeping bags, and eating yet more party junk food.
I realised far too late, that I couldn't threaten to take anyone home who was still awake at "turning into to a pumpkin" hour (midnight), because I hadn't prearranged backup with their parents. Too late for empty threats!
Also, I thought it was the holidays on your last sleepover - there shouldn't be morning rushing about with 4 kids during the holidays! Anyway, their parents must pickup in the morning and deal with the exhausted fallout themselves. Times's up!
Be firm with the boundaries and it may just be survivable!

Z said...

Happy birthday, Lashes.

Too late for advice on brilliant cake-making. So sorry, darling.

jonathan said...

No cake advice but I will second Adrian's comment re monitor lizards, which me and Frankie consider ourselves experts on as we have adopted the two who live in a glass cage at the Manchester Museum (not that they or the museum know about it, it's sort of unofficial, I don't think they know either that we have Christened them Zillard and Lilleth). Anyway we are strangely fascinated by them and can confirm that they have never demanded professional attendance of any kind during any of our half-hour long stretches of watching them through the glass walls of their giant prison, patiently waiting for one of them to flick its tongue or demonstrate any other signs of life.

Xtreme English said...

Well, you're a better mom than I am, Gunga Din....Where do parents get the idea that they have to do things like this, anyway? Just say, "I gave you LIFE, kiddo! And a boughten cake from Sainsburys (Marks & Spencer?) is my limit." [Here in the US of A, we'd go to Giant, which has brilliant cake manufacturing facilities for birthdays.]

Brilliant ideas to make the cakes out of meatloaf or carrot cake, though. That'd slow down the requests. I do make a lovely bunny loaf at eastertime, actually. frosted with mashed potatoes, etc.

organizari petreceri said...

Oh my god, what crab is that? It is huge. I didn`t see a crab like that in my life.