So, my kids take this theater class.
It’s a great class. Worth every penny. They did three performances each this year. My 10-year-old got to be the Count of Monte Cristo in this last one. There was sword-fighting. Lots of extra choreography sessions to get the sword fighting to look right. (And it did. It really, really did!) Here she is as the Count:
You think that’s cool, you should have seen her actually using that sword. Way cool.
The performance was two days ago, and a week before that, the director sent out an email saying that the show was going to be outside because they needed a ton of extra room to do the swordplay, and also that he wanted to have a party in the church parking lot afterwards, and he asked everyone to bring some food item to share. I saw that email, thought to myself: “huh,” and then promptly forgot all about it.
So, when I dropped the girls off on Wednesday morning for dress rehearsal, the director reminded me about it, and I apologized for having forgotten and he said no big deal, and then he said, “Could you bring anything?” And I said, “Sure,” and then he said, “Cupcakes, maybe?” And I said, “Hmmm… how about a cake. I’ll have the bakery write ‘Bravo’ on it.” And he said that would be fine, and then I also offered to bring a cooler full of water because we were in the middle of a major heat wave and the kids would probably need some water after all that sword fighting in the heat.
And then I drove off.
And then, I apparently drove right the hell off some deep end and left my sanity at the edge of the cliff. (Bye-bye, sanity. I’ll miss you. Let’s skype sometime, okay? Or you could just text me, if you’re too busy. It’s so hard to stay in touch these days, isn’t it?)
Because I suddenly realized that cupcakes were far more sensible than a cake. A cake required plates and plastic forks, and a knife to cut it with. Who needs that happy hassle when you could just hand out cupcakes and let everyone eat with their hands? But then I thought: how could I write “Bravo” on the cupcakes? I’m terrible at cake decorating. Really terrible at it. My hand shakes, my arm gets tired, not to mention I’m a lefty. That probably makes a difference, too. Somehow.
Then I mentally priced how much it would cost me to buy enough cupcakes for about 2 or 3 dozen people. And then I decided it would be fun to actually bake the cupcakes myself. Not from scratch, though! I mean: I’m not CRAZY or anything! Right? And THEN!!! I got this idea of making little paper flags glued to toothpicks, each one saying “Bravo” on it, so that EACH ACTOR would have their very own edible BRAVO!
So, I drove home, got on my computer, found a bunch of free templates and Photoshop brushes online, quickly designed these little tiny cupcake banners, set it up to print, drove to the grocery store, bought cake mix (boxed, of course… remember: I’m not CRAZY, right???) and then I saw these fabulous cans of frosting the operated like Reddi Whip cans. I’d be able to spray the frosting right onto those bad boys! Zip zang zoom! Super easy awesome cupcakes! I grabbed some rainbow sprinkles to top it all off, a couple dozen bottles of water and a bag of ice, and I was on my way!
Within an hour, I had my first batch of cupcakes baking. But when they came out of the oven, I realized just how long it had been since I’d actually made cupcakes. You see, I’m more of a muffin baker. And I have one muffin tin. To make a dozen muffins. If that thing had been called a cupcake tin instead of a muffin tin, I’d have made the connection and put my paper cupcake holders into them. Instead I lined up twenty-four cupcake papers on a baking sheet, poured in the batter and baked. And when they came out of the oven, they were all flattened and square, and it took me far longer than I care to admit for me to realize what had gone wrong.
For a few minutes, I entertained the idea of just using them anyway. So what if they were flat and square? They’d still taste the same, right? But then, my baker-mom pride kicked in and I decided to go back to the store and get another box of mix, and another muffin tin, so I could bake a full batch in one session. I figured I had Just Enough Time. And I did. I baked right up to the last minute, and in between baking sessions, I furiously cut and glued 48 tiny little Bravo! flags, and I found a perfect sized box to line with tin foil to put everything in. And I ended up having Just Enough of that canned frosting to go around and the sprinkles went fine, and the flags looked great! I was AWESOME CUPCAKE MOM!!! My kitchen looked like a batter bomb had gone off in it, and the rest of the house was a serious shambles, and the dogs were bored. But damn! Those cupcakes sure looked FABULOUS! Don’t you agree?
I even got this all done with enough time to spare to eat a very late lunch and put on a little makeup before we left for the show.
RegularDad helped me load all the water and ice into the car and I put my piece de resistance cupcakes in, and we were off to the show.
When we got there, all the children just about cried when they saw us coming in with water. ‘WATER!!!” they gasped. “YOU BROUGHT WATER!!!” And they dove into the cooler in desperation, and I figured, eh… it’s a heat wave. I’m sure someone else will have brought water too. And when they saw the cupcakes, their eyes lit up, and I BASKED IN THE GLOW. But modestly, you know. I mean: it’s all about the kids, right?
So, after both shows, there was this weird scramble of putting away chairs and trying to get pictures of the actors, and not long into all that crazyness, my 8-year-old ran up to me and said, “Carl is trying to bring the cupcakes out all by himself!” So, making a mental note to deal with the tattling later, I went into the church and down to the kitchen and there was this kid, Carl, obsessing about the cupcakes. When were we bringing them out? Did we need any help bringing them out? It was a bit alarming, watching him deal with the fact that there were cupcakes in the fridge that no one was currently eating. I shooed him away and told him we’d take care of the food after pictures were done. Then I ran back out because I really wanted a picture of my 10-year-old as the Count. And while I was trying to get that shot, the director apparently went and got those cupcakes and put them outside on a little table, where a small cluster of eager, hot and very hungry children immediately formed. And then he told those children, “Do not touch those cupcakes under any circumstances!” and then he disappeared into the crowd to try to get more pictures.
And to make matters even more complicated, those cupcakes were the only food at this party. No one else had brought a single thing, except for one mom who’d brought a bowl of cut up watermelon. Which disappeared very quickly. So, all there was to eat were these cupcakes, and all there was to drink was the water I’d brought, which had already been dipped into.
And all those kids — those Hot, HUNGRY children — began to bicker.
One little girl had apparently picked out the One That She Wanted and had her hand hovering over it, claw-like, so that the SECOND she was given the OK to have a cupcake, she could descend upon it. My 8-year-old and that kid, Carl, were standing at opposite sides of the table, counting how many there were. They kept messing up the count, snapping at each other and starting over. I saw all this from a distance and wandered over to the table and said, “There’s 48, guys. Ask me how I know.” Then began a furious count of How Many Children Were Present In Total. Then my 8-year-old said that Carl was saying that he would automatically get 2 cupcakes because he’d been in both performances. (More tattling… oh joy.) So, I laid down the Cupcake Law. Which was simple:
You Get One.
No one liked that. Then my 8-year-old took hold of the arm of the girl with the claw-hand in ready position and whipped it away from the table. So, I sternly sent her away from the table, because we don’t put hands on other children like that, I don’t care what they’re doing, etc, etc. And my 8-year-old melted down right there. She ran off into the church crying, and the rest of the kids huddled tighter around the box, filling the gap where she’d been, hands ready to grab. I looked up at the director’s wife and said, “why can’t they just have a cupcake now?” and she said that her husband wanted to get a picture of everyone around the cupcakes or something. So, I turned on my camera, snapped a damn picture and started handing out cupcakes.
I then spent most of the “party” guarding the cupcakes that were left. And before long it descended into “well, so-and-so had two, how come I only get one?” etc, etc, etc. And I just got really, really irritated. What a freekin’ nightmare. Never had I regretted doing something for a group of children more than I did making those stupid cupcakes. Other moms tried to come up to me to compliment me on them, but I just shook my head and muttered, “Yeah. Never again,” and looked away from them. In the end, half the kids probably got two, but at that point, I no longer even cared. I’d made a lot of cupcakes thinking that the parents would want some too. Not to mention the siblings of the actors. But none of that seemed to matter. Those kids were hell bent on having at least two a piece, although a dozen would have been better.
RegularDad asked me later why I hadn’t just let the whole thing go. And honestly? I don’t know. He’s right, of course. Who cares if some kids got 6 and some got none? Was it really any of my business? The fact that one of my own kids was responsible for starting the whole mess factored into it some. I had to reprimand her, because that’s how we roll in my house. But then, I guess I expected other parents to corral their own and when that didn’t happen, I felt bad for reprimanding her when all around her, kids were just acting greedy about the whole thing. Talk about a double standard.
Also, toward the end of the Worst Cast Party Ever, the mom who’d brought the watermelon (God Bless and Keep Her) approached the table, her youngest son (who suffers from a myriad of problems, including cerebral palsy) at her side. I looked at her son and said, “Hey dude, did you get a cupcake yet?” And his mom explained that yes, he’d actually gotten two already but both times, he’d gotten one bite and then dropped it by accident, and she wanted to know if he could have one more. So, there I stood, cringing at the thought that they’d think I might take my control-freakness to that limit and not allow it. “Of course he can, ” I said. “You know… it doesn’t really count unless you actually ingest the entire cupcake.”
By the time we were ready to go, there were four cupcakes left. I wrapped them up and sent them home with the director to feed his kids later. In the car, I explained to my girls that they should understand that if Your Mom is The Mom Who Makes The Cupcakes, chances are, there are Extra Cupcakes Still At Home, so you should not worry if someone gets more than you, because in the end you’ll get more than anybody.
“Ohhhhhh,” said my 8-year-old.
We got some Chinese food for dinner, and then, after eating, we went out into the yard, set up the telescope and looked at the moon for a while. Looking at the moon is always a good idea. But it still took me a long time to shake off what became a Very Bad Mood That Lasted Far Longer Than Usual.
So, in spite of all my good intentions, I’ve screwed up again. Now I’m not just the mom who brings the cool cupcakes, I’m also the one who will be mean to everyone when handing them out.
And that’s the long, sad story of how I accidentally became the CUPCAKE NAZI. Don’t you wish you were me?