family fun/mom insanity

Many of you may be familiar with Family Fun magazine, a periodical whose monthly issues are crammed with seasonal project ideas, recipes, birthday party/cake ideas, vacation spot ads, articles on parenting - all aimed at mommies (and daddies, I suppose) who must spend every waking minute of their days wondering, “How will I have fun with my family today???” Okay, that sounded mean. I actually like reading this magazine (I even like having fun with my family), and it does have many useful ideas. It’s just that some of them turn into bigger projects than their illustrations purport them to be.

Case in point: Stuntman, my oldest, had a birthday last week, and so of course he wanted the celebratory cupcakes brought to share with his class at lunchtime. Mom, feeling creative, went immediately to the Family Fun website for cupcake ideas, and that fine young man chose the “Cyber-Sweet” cupcake – one which, with the clever use of some chocolate-covered graham crackers and white frosting, looked like a cupcake with a miniature laptop perched on top. “Cyber-CUTE!” said Mom (okay, not really), and bought all the necessaries. On the special day, the cakes were already baked and just needed to be decorated – before 1:30. Ready, set, go: shower, take Stuntman and Flip to school, make frosting, dot a bunch of chocolate grahams with a flurry of computer keys, go back to store for more chocolate grahams and powdered sugar for more frosting, turn a bunch more grahams into computer monitors (get a cramp in hand), frost cupcakes, throw “laptops” onto cupcakes, throw 3-yr-old Miss Bee into the car at 1:28, drive to school, lumber into the cafeteria just in time for the last 10 minutes of lunch, and watch all 20 masterpieces get devoured in about 30 seconds.

So now you can ask the question: Why put yourself through all that when your efforts go initially unappreciated (I believe Stuntman’s first words when I finally got to the school were “it’s about time!” – the “thank-you’s” did come later) and then go down a crowd of 4th graders’ gullets?

Insert sweet violin/piano music here: It’s all for my children.

No it isn’t; it’s for ME. Okay, part of it’s for the kids, but a large part is due to my project-finding radar, which, when it detects a challenge involving baking, sewing or writing, triggers an irresistible desire to try out and complete the project, whether or not it looks like the picture in the magazine/on the internet/in the book (as you can see). Could I just do what all the other moms do and bring cupcakes from the grocery store bakery with an inch of frosting on top? Well, sure, but where's the fun? I don't get to help. Do the kids really care where the cake comes from? Probably not, but I do have this secret fantasy that my children will, 20 or so years from now, tell their own kids about how their mom brought computer cupcakes to school for their birthdays. Even if they don't, that's okay with me - Wal-mart may have chocolate cupcakes, also baked from a mix, but they'll never have anything remotely "cyber-sweet."


AmandaScraps said...

The cupcakes are cyber-cute :)

Chris said...

Very well written, as a possible projection of my future life! (no pregnancies yet) Oh, and this isn't Chris (you know who!)