Family and Parenting

My Family, Part II: Deconstructed Birthday Cake

I still don’t really go in for astrology, but if there was ever an embodiment of a Gemini, my sweet almost-9-year-old is it. As a baby, changing Priya’s onesie could take her from a placid snuggle bunny to screaming as if she’d been stung by a trio of bees in under 30 seconds. Nowadays, it’s a missed math problem or a delay in mom’s snack delivery. When things aren’t sending her off the rails in a way that makes me wonder what actual PMS is going to look like, she is sweet as pancakes: thinking of gifts she’d like to buy her teachers, playing school, teaching herself dance routines, and cuddling up to read with me every night. She has thick hair that mats into dreadlocks between brushings, a round face with dimples, and a strong preference for leggings over dresses. The other day she donned a scarf and put her hair up and I thought she’d turned 14.

If Priya takes after me in her penchant for big feelings, I think of Lily as a “joy bubble” that floats above and around our quiet ruminations and sensitivities. She also has dark hair, but it is thinner and less tending toward dreadlocks, which is like a coffee break when we are battling an episode of lice. She loves gymnastics and pull-ups, which have honed her into 50 pounds of pure lean muscle. She has a small face and earnest eyes; her mind is a rainforest of creative visions which I am woefully unequipped to help her actualize. Happily, at newly 7 she is often more into the activity itself, her enthusiasm markedly undimmed when the product doesn’t live up to the vision.

Most recently, she wanted to make a three-layer cake. To coincide with “National Dolphin Day” (April 14, if you didn’t know), she would frost it in beautiful ocean blue, and then cover half with graham cracker crumbs to suggest sand. By evening she was eager to frost, and I was desperate to shower. I left her with the cakes (both chocolate and strawberry layers, mind you) and a bowl of homemade blue buttercream, promising to return in six minutes. When I returned, the “cake” was a pile of crumbs and chunks (all flavor layers compromised), with globs of blue buttercream throughout. About a quarter of the goods gummed the floor. Lily was delighted.

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