Cake

Last week I threw the fourth birthday party I’ve thrown for my boy.

Year 1 he had a homemade carrot cupcake. He didn’t like it. But he liked the strawberries his aunt, the hostess, served, and crawled happily through the legs of adults who love him more than anything.

Year 2 we invited a large family of friends over to our outgrown grad school apartment. We were already in the descent into New England weather and the descent into morning sickness with Scout, though I didn’t know it yet. Our friends, who would turn out to be Scout’s godparents, are gluten free, and Pippin was still resistant to cake so I shaped vanilla ice cream in a springform pan and topped it with whipped cream.

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Year 3 we were new to Virginia. I invited the three kids whose mothers I knew and liked best and Pippin requested doughnuts. I really wanted to show off my baking skillz, but hey, it’s his party. He and J ran out before the party for these lovely, local Mennonite-made doughnuts and I borrowed a cake stand and piled them, I thought, quite elegantly.


On Halloween Pippin turned four and at six am on Friday I got up to start the first of two batches of cinnamon rolls. He’s still not a cake man, but he could subsist on the gooey cinnamon rolls his papa treats him to on their Saturday morning outings. The second batch I rolled out and set to rise in the hush of the kids napping. I love bread dough, and how it feels warm and silky and resilient under my hands, like the sweet frog bellies of my babies, and I thought of the baby Pippin once was, blue-eyed and bald and cherubic.


In the past I have railed against Pippin’s food eccentricities, and his refusal to eat cake is one of the more ridiculous ones. How is a doughnut not basically cake? Besides, flour is my love language, and it frustrates me to be able to fix so few of the foods he enjoys. (I could, I suppose, learn to make chicken dinosaurs.)

But thinking of the baby he once was, I realized we may not have many more of these birthdays: birthdays where he makes lavishly bizarre requests, birthdays when I can make his dreams come true.

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Author: Katherine Grimm Bowers

Babies. Books. Fledgling housewifery. Once and future librarian. Catholic. Always thinking about chocolate ice cream.

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