Thursday, March 18, 2010

Birthday cake battle

I just spent over an hour of my life, standing in front of the WalMart bakery counter, battling a controlling, obsessive 10 year old, trying to order a birthday cake.

I ended up in tears and do not want to EVER do that again.

To say that Bright-Eyes has vision and solid expectations would be an understatement. He always knows, unwaveringly, just what he wants. Most years I work hard to bake and decorate the cake he envisions (that wrestling ring cake just about pushed me over the edge). This year the oven is broken and he found himself at the mercy or the WalMart bakery and our budget.

Going in I had done what I could to prepare him. I told him the size that we would be able to buy and tried to convince him that the WalMart bakers could probably *not* do a three layer, fudge-filled, custom Nerf gun cake...... Obviously he wasn't quite convinced.

To his credit he did hold it together when he realized the Nerf gun dream was not to be, though I think both of us were somewhat offended at the vast outnumbering of boys cakes by the endless princess and fairy cakes... but when he saw the size cake that I wanted to order he lost all ability to compromise.

I really can't say that I blame him much. The smaller cakes were just plain ugly. The icing was smeared, the decorating plain... It looked as if they had worked hard to make them unappealing so that parents would end up ordering the larger cakes... effective strategy.

At this point Bright-Eyes has reached the "lock-down" point. In this stage he can't compromise or even reason. Often he can't even hear the spoken word. He knows what he wants and would just as soon go without a birthday cake all together ( I don't want anything then!!! Can we just leave?). This would be fine if his was the only birthday we were celebrating, but, I had to order a cake for his brother (Middle-One) too. This delay gave Bright-Eyes time to try to figure out some way of salvaging his day.

That is actually a pretty good thing for him to do, though not a pleasant thing for me to experience. He was at least accepting that I wasn't able to get what he wanted... so he said he wanted donuts.

Ok, we walked over to the donuts and looked. I asked him if he was sure he wouldn't end up missing having a cake... No, he insisted, he wanted donuts. He went on to say that it is his birthday and he should be able to choose the treat and so could choose donuts instead of a cake if he wanted to........... *listening to the crickets chirping while biting my tongue*. I explained that we would have to wait then and pick them up on the day of his celebration because donuts get stale. He said ok... and I want *these* donuts and pointed to a box filled with half chocolate and half white... good choice. So I said ok and turned back to the cake counter to order Middle-one's cake and Bright-Eyes voice stopped me in my tracks with

"I think I want cupcakes"

Taking a deep breath and putting love in my eyes and getting my nurture on, I turned around slowly. ............................

"ok sugar, then let's look at the cupcakes"

The fact that this scene plays out like a bratty prima-Dona child playing puppet with mommy, is not lost on me at all. I do remember those years BEFORE adopting when I would have judged this scene up one side and down the other, and walked away with a smug "I won't let MY kids do that!". But, I am not that person any more and I knew where Bright-Eyes "high-anxiety" need for control came from. I knew that he was already stressed because his RAD brother would be home sharing his birthday weekend. I knew that his thoughts ran to "I wonder if my birthmom is thinking of me/loves me/wants to see me/regrets giving me away. I knew that this was a little boy who had a vision for his special day and was having to let go of it step by step and trust someone else with his dream.

We looked at the cupcakes... for about 3.7 seconds and he said

"no, I guess I'll just get donuts"

Things began to get blurry at this point ... must have been the love in my eyes. At some point I recall that Ebear (who is just one week post op) came up to me and took the cart and the list and said "I'll shop" And I realized then that we hadn't even gotten groceries!

We went back and forth on the cupcake/donut dilemma a couple of time before I was finally able to get Bright-Eyes to admit that he did really want a birthday *cake* but figured if he couldn't have a cake he would get something else.

Back to square one...

"Sugar, you *can* have a cake, just not the cake you wanted"

I asked him to tell me what he wanted. The Nerf cake... ok, I know!! but next, after the Nerf cake... He points to the huge-by-large cake displayed at the counter, with the toy jeep on it...

"That one"

..... ummmm... ok, not THAT one. It costs too much. Besides THAT one, which cake do you want? He walks over and points to an Easter cake with a cross.

"I want that cake"

"So you want a cake that size?"

..."No, that cake" ...

Somewhere in here I realized that Bright-Eyes is not getting that we can order a cake and have options for change. So I tell him that he can have a cake that size and we can have them put the jeep on it instead. There was a moment of understanding and I swear I heard angels sing.

....."OH!!!!!!!!.... ok, I want that cake *pointing to the Easter cake* with the jeep on it and Happy Birthday to me!" .......

*angels stopped......cue crickets*..............

*using all of my good communication skills I mirrored*

"So, this is what you want... THAT cake, with the flowers, chocolate frosting stars and cross, with a jeep, right?"

"No flowers"

..... Well, I felt that we were making progress.

I heard my phone ring and answered it to discover Ebear calling (for the third time) to ask what flavor of ice cream to get..... don't ask me why I did what I did next, I will never be able to provide any acceptable answer..... I turned to Bright-Eyes and asked

"What flavor ice cream do you want?"

................After much discussion, He chose cookie dough.

After more discussion he chose a medium sized cake, agreeing to pay the difference out of some birthday money so that he could have a larger cake than I could afford. He chose chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and a black border. He asked them to write happy birthday to him on the bottom left side (I told you he has specific vision and expectations) and to leave room on the right side so that we can add army vehicles from the $ store. On the left top corner he asked for the sugar cross on the Easter cake.

"Sweetie?" I asked "Are you sure you want the cross... just because it's on the cake on display doesn't mean you have to have it"

He looked at me like I had grown a third eye and said

"It represents God... I love God"


The process was longer and more painful that having a root canal but it ended in success. ... I think. Because success isn't measured in winning but in moving one more step down the path.

1 comment:

Kerrie said...

Oh, my stomach clenched until tears came to my eyes when I read that--except my daughter's face was superimposed on your son's. I have those SAME conversations with Princess. That sinking feeling when you realize that you will never figure out the depths of what they do not understand. When you can feel how exhausting navigating a completely normal day is for them. Ugh!