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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Let them eat brioche!

I am faced with a moral dilemma of gargantuan proportions. [translation = as well as a minor etiquette issue] Tis the season of school wind down when invitations proliferate. Kindly folk at the school wish to offer thanks to their volunteers and show their appreciation for inadequate services rendered.

I find this a particularly delightful element of the American psyche. British people generally believe that they have a complete monopoly in the polite department, in both quality and quantity. Yet I do not ever remember experiencing such an outpouring of well wishes for minor services. [translation = although things may have changed in that last couple of decades]

One of my favourite authors, "Mr.Bill Bryson" has also remarked, much more eloquently upon these perceived differences.

I now find that in addition to the above, I, as well as all the other mother’s, have been invited to attend a ‘Mother’s Day Celebration’ in Junior’s class. I am led to believe that the sub-plot to this deal, is cake eating. I have two difficulties here. Firstly, following jaw surgery and an extravagant amount of elastic bands, I am unable to eat solid food. Secondly, even if I were able to eat solid food, ‘cake’ would not be high on my ‘preferred’ list of gastronomic delights. [translation = it would come directly after chocolate covered cockroaches] Whilst I am more than happy to bake cakes, decorate cakes and give cakes away, I cannot even recall when I last had occasion to force myself to consume the dratted stuff.

Cake by it’s very nature suffers from several fatal flaws. Now don't get all distracted here, as I know that the ghost of 'fruit cake' has descended upon my erstwhile little American pals. Perish the thought! [translation = for reasons that are still not entirely clear to me, just the words 'fruit cake' are a cause for gurgles of hilarity on this continent.] Ban the vision of fruit cake and replace with American cake e.g. 'white cake,' or pound cake, especially as the latter is available on both continents and is the same. For those who are not bakers, pound cake is not dollar cake here, as the 'pound' refers to weight, not the rate of exchange.

The first flaw, is that cake is sweet. This puts it in one of the highest categories of ‘loathsome.’ Additionally, cake is often smothered in a wide variety of sweet slime. [translation = frosting or icing, or sometimes both if you a truly unlucky] Slime of course takes the prime place on the ‘loathsome’ scale. [translation = slime and sweet combined, would trump the latter, so truly aversive as to be vomit inducing]

So what is a mother supposed to do in such situations? Refuse the invitation and avoid the whole issue? Attend, but refuse to eat the cake?

Tempted as I am by either or both solutions, I have to swallow my misgivings and attend anyway.

I sit on a chair the size of a Toadstool. To complicate matters still further, all my children are aware that I dislike cake. This particular son, favours chocolate cake with ganache, but never ventures from this preference.

We examine his cake offering. [translation = a muffin the size of Manhattan]
“It is dah big!”
“Indeed it is.”
“It is dah vanilla which is being dah white.” [translation = unnecessary, he is clearly bilingual]
“Too true.”
“Dah frostin is dah pink.”
“Quite so, the very worst colour in the entire universe.”
We continue to gaze at the confectionery piece. [translation = joint attention, a rare and truly under valued quality]
“I am finking.”
“You are? Thank you so much for telling me that! Can you tell me what you are thinking?”
“Dat maybe you are not liking to be eating dis.”
“You are such a thoughtful little chap. Thank you.”
Who would have guessed at the depth of his magnanimous nature? [translation = "Sally- Anne" can keep her dratted marbles]
“What we be doing about dis problem den?”
Self generated problem solving techniques! Be still my beating heart.
“Not a clue. A real toughy! Do you think we should throw ourselves on the floor and scream a bit?”
"No! Dat will not be dah helping. I fink we be needin dah compromise."
It's official, 'compromize' is now my favourite word, enough to allow a 'z' to take preference! What has happened to my child? Who has zapped him? What did they zap him with? [translation = undoubtedly self initiated]
“Maybe……maybe I am eating it for you?”
“Really! You’d do that for me?”
“It will be being dah new food for me I am finking.”
“I cannot believe your bravery, and all for me! Thank you.”

I watch him attempt tentative 'eating.' I resist the urge to nibble part of him and content myself with one hand entwined around his middle. He snuggled back onto my lap, his fingers tremble with the paper muffin case. [translation = tactile defensiveness people often hate the texture of paper, especially on highly sensitive little digits] I pull it off for him as he made his attempt and I don't want to tempt fate. The muffin rests on my palm, a plate.

The tip of his tongue edges out to brush the frosting. He remains like that for some moments before he slowly retracts his tongue. As he does so a little electric current courses through his body and mine, but for different reasons. I break off a piece of the crumb, tiny and hold it for him. We repeat the exercise.

He turns sideways to tuck himself under my chin and wipe his mucky mouth and face on my pristine white T-shirt.

That's it! I'm finished. [translation = done] Now I can die happy. [translation = all will be well]

Greater love hath no neophobic child, than to eat cake for his mum for Mother’s Day. [Or any other day come to think of it]

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