Sam, Tanya and I celebrated his 3rd birthday last Thursday. Unlike Christmas, which went pretty well overall (see last week’s post), his birthday was a bit of a debacle, lemme tell ya. Thank goodness Tanya was there. He just adores her, and loved her gifts — the book Up and Down (which of course she read to him), and the very cool game Zitternix, which they played together.
Then it was time to open my gifts. He opens his first gift, this floor piano. He plays with it for a minute then declares, “I don’t like it.” Second gift, a firefighter play costume, gets the same reaction. At least he liked his (used) books, and his Thomas the Tank Engine winter boots picked up on clearance at the Zellers store-closing sale, which I hadn’t wrapped, just brought with me to daycare for him to wear home that day. Still, I was feeling pretty low at having chosen gifts that failed to delight, you know?
Then, supper. Sam requested “noodles” for his birthday supper. (The kid LOVES his pasta.) Stupid me, I make a new sauce recipe for a change, the Moosewood Eggplant Scallopini Marsala… because I can ALWAYS get him to eat pasta, and he’d enjoyed a veggie lasagna with similar components in the past — eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, the last of my dad’s sweet wine. Well, not that night. One bite and he’s, “I don’t like it.” Absolutely refuses to have even one more bite.
That’s when I lost it. Burst out crying. (Using up the last of my dad’s wine had me feeling extra emotional, I’ll admit.) Tanya got up and hugged me. Sam seemed perplexed but not overly upset. He ended up eating cold pasta leftovers instead. (I offered him the option of having the noodles warmed up a little, but he chose to eat them cold. He hates when his food is too hot.) I’m afraid I was a bit harsh in my tone when presenting him with his alternate main course, raising my voice, banging his bowl onto the table angrily. I then gulped down the better part of my glass of wine.
OK, cake. Can’t go wrong with birthday cake, right? Bananas are one of Sam’s favourite fruits, so I thought a banana cake would be a hit. Unfortunately, I didn’t have nearly as many chocolate chips (that’s the last of them there, sprinkled on top for decoration) as I thought I did, so I couldn’t make the sour cream ganache I’d originally been planning since Sam loves chocolate, and threw on an incompletely blended cream cheese frosting instead, quickly improvised, not following a recipe, but using minimal sugar since I was low on that too. The frosting was lumpy… I mean rustic, yeah, rustic, that’s the ticket… Anyway: light the candles, turn out the lights, sing Happy Birthday, he’s all smiles blowing out the candles. I serve the cake to Sam. One bite. The result below is plain: “I don’t like it.” Then Tanya and I taste it and have seconds, Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Cordon Rose Banana Cake is so divine. Seriously, best banana cake I’ve ever made. It was amazing.
You know when you have a vision of how a special occasion is going to be? Yeah, that was nothing like my vision. Welcome to threenager-hood, my friend Amy might say. AAAAARGH! Just keepin’ it real, folks.
Ah well, Tanya and I had a couple of beers after he went to bed and had a nice long talk, which helped me feel a lot better. And Dude was super affectionate and cuddly and sweet the next morning, and all was well. (:
*Photos courtesy of Tanya Wright.