Super Preschooler's birthday party is on Saturday. 15 little boys and girls are going to meet us at the local children's museum to celebrate Super Preschooler, make volcanoes, and basically run amok. Oh, and eat cake. Duh. Can't forget the cake for an Awkward party. So, naturally, we have to go order a cake. Make it? Oh, that's cute. Are you new here? You might be looking for Perfect Mom's blog. I am not sure about the link, as she won't give it to me, but you could always start here.
So, we head over to Meijer to pick out a cake. No judging; they are cheap and they have never done me wrong yet. Super Toddler's Transformers cake was the thing legends are made of. We sidle up the cake case and all the Supers are suddenly quiet. They know hallowed ground when they are near it. We are standing in a tidy silent row before all those delicious choices, when an impossibly young man pops his head over the case; could this child actually be the high priest of this scrumptious shrine?
Cake youth: Can I help you?
Me: hmmmm.... (I am still trying to figure out if Meijer is violating some child labor law.)
Super Toddler: Cake!
Cake youth: Hey, would you guys like some cookies?
Super Preschooler shoots him a dubious look; is that a question that even needs to be asked? Super Baby opens up her arms and reaches toward him, like she is coming home at last, and Super Toddler just says, "Yep." The dessert genie suddenly disappears and then, just as quickly, pops back up with 3 sugar cookies, nestled in a shiny piece of wax paper. He hands them to me and waits patiently while I am mobbed by my children. When I am finally able to come up for air, we start again.
Cake youth: So, what can I help you with?
Me: I need a birthday cake. (I have now pegged his age at somewhere between 16 and 25; the combo acne/goatee-attempt is jamming my age radar.)
Super Preschooler: Forty.
Me: Who's forty?
Super Preschooler: Forty! (This is accompanied by a slight crumb-spewing laugh.)
Cake youth: I think he might be saying "for me." Are you the birthday boy?
Super Preschooler nods and continues to rain cookie crumbs down on the pristine glass case.
Cake youth: Well, what kind of cake would you like? Sports? Spiderman? We have an awesome Transformers cake!
Super Preschooler pauses and takes a huge swallow; he must be gearing up for something big. And he is. "I want a Fairy Cake!"
Now, here's a little back story you might need: Super Preschooler was originally going to have a Space Birthday to ring in year 5. However, when I called the Natural History Museum to schedule it, they told me that they would be happy to, but that their planetarium would not be available that day for a star show. I still am not entirely sure what a space party is without a planetarium show, but, needless to say, I politely declined. I asked Super Preschooler for his backup plan and he announced that he wanted a Fairy party and he wanted to troop around downtown Ann Arbor looking for fairy doors. What are fairy doors? Oh, read here. Basically, Super Preschooler wanted to lead a fairy scavenger hunt, which is adorable and all that, if one's birthday isn't in a Michigan February. When faced with the reality of the weather, Super Preschooler settled for the Children's Museum and Volcanoes, but it appears that he never quite let go of the fairies.
I am never sure how people are going to take Super Preschooler's enthusiastic and absolute disregard for traditional gender stipulations. Children his age typically don't notice. Older children might laugh or ask him why he is doing "unboy" things. Either way, they deal directly with Super Preschooler and he, being his little self-confident self, wins them over and has cast them in some play of his before I have time to worry. Adults are another matter altogether. Adults typically vacillate between slight horror and overcompensating attempts to be cool with it. "Oh, gosh, I would never let my son wear a dress, how are you coping with it?" to "How brave and accepting are you; what a wonderful way to demonstrate tolerance!" I hate both. Here's why:
1. My son isn't wearing a dress. My son is wearing a dress-up Cinderella mock tulle and faux lace A-line ballgown with an asymmetrically draped bodice. Let's be accurate here, people.
2. The fact that he is wearing said dress to play pretend in a play sanctioned location with other children who are playing pretend doesn't seem to demonstrate any particularly rebellious behaviors on his part that I need to be worried about or cope with.
3. Yes, there are occasions when Super Preschooler accessorizes in public with a necklace (or 20), a couple hats, 12 scarves, and more bracelets than an 80s Madonna video. He looks no more bizarre than any frat boy on South Beach come Spring Break, and if accessories are the sole property of the female gender, someone really ought to tell the Catholic Church, Steven Tyler, and the entire male population of New Jersey.
4. He is 4 years old. OK, OK, he is 1 week away from being 5 years old. (Don't rush me; it goes too fast as it is!) He is in no more danger of running off and joining a cross dressing burlesque show than I am. Mostly because I can't walk in those heels. Seriously, have you seen those things? Super Preschooler says it best; "I am not pretending to be a girl. I am pretending to be a princess. Now, out of my way, I have a village to save from a dragon and a ball to plan."
5. Stick around and watch. Within the same play period, he is going to be an astronaut, a tree, an ogre, a really bossy director, and Iron Man. If I believed that everything he plays and is interested in right now is somehow reflective of what he is going to do as an adult, I would spend my life in a constant state of worry and constantly on the phone with NASA, finding out exactly how safe those suits really are.
6. Furthermore, we all know that he is going to surpass any and all fantasies that I have for him anyway, so it is pointless to try and figure out what and who he will be someday. He will be amazing, that much is sure.
7. I am not being particularly tolerant because there is nothing to be tolerant of. He is playing a game. He isn't making a political statement. He isn't coming out. He isn't identifying a sexual orientation. He is playing a game. Because he is 4 years old. OK, 5 years old.
8. If and when he decides to do any of the things in point 7, I will still have no need to be tolerant because there will still be nothing for me to be tolerant of. Tolerate means to accept or endure something that you don't particularly like. Now, there are plenty of things to endure about raising children. Like when I ask him to get me something and he rolls his eyes and says "yes, your Highness." Or he won't brush his teeth. Or when he yells at me or fights with his brother and sister. Or when he is sassy or crabby or won't eat or says he hates me. There will be plenty of things to endure when he grows up. Like when he breaks curfew the first time. Or dates someone I don't like. Or crashes his car. Or goes to college 8 states away. Or doesn't call me often enough. Or isn't there next to me by the Meijer cake case, being almost 5, eating a sugar cookie and getting crumbs everywhere, wearing 8 Mardi Gras necklaces and a Cubs hat, while smiling up at me and announcing that he wants a fairy cake. He is my son and I love him completely and unconditionally; dresses never even come into it.
So, completely fiery and intense tangent that totally happened in my head behind us, I hold my breath and look up at this cake youth to see what kind of reaction he will have to Super Preschooler's request. 16-25 isn't quite child and it isn't quite adult, so all bets are off here. He pauses and thinks for a minute before disappearing again behind his magical cake case. He emerges laden with an immense book that looks like it ought to be chained to a table somewhere in a Medieval monastery. He beams as he holds it out to Super Preschooler.
Cake youth: Here, check these out. We have 4 different fairy cakes; this one has Tinkerbell coming out of an actual plastic flower. Awesome, huh?
Super Preschooler: Yes, awesome!
Except it wasn't awesome. The Tinkerbell flower one. It looked like some obscene Disney-fied Birth of Venus. Luckily, Super Preschooler agreed with me and picked one where Tinkerbell and 2 fairy buddies are hanging out in the middle of the cake in frosting. Much less creepy. Super Preschooler's birthday is going to be volcanic fairy magic.
And you, cookie dispensing cake youth. You are officially going on my list of fairy godpeople. Love you. And as I love you, let me tell you the truth; that goatee is not working, my friend. Not in the slightest.
I didn't think we were going to beat last year's cake, but Super Preschooler and the Cake Youth might have done it.
What's that? Yes, you in the back. No, I didn't make this one either. Why are you still here? I thought I sent you to Perfect Mom's ages ago!