I had spent the day feeling like a loser of a mom. I yell too much and spend too much time muttering and sputtering. Mornings are a nightmare and I have no idea how we get somewhere dressed and in somewhat presentable condition seven days a week. I’m exhausted and they’re baffled.
Still, ’tis the season so we spent the afternoon making holiday crafts (more on that tomorrow) and then made gingerbread in the train-shaped pan I picked up at Williams-Sonoma a few years ago. I went on and on about how I really would need their help doing our Very Important Job of decorating the train at the cohousing holiday party.
This is the train pan, which I’ve used many times (birthday train, Easter train, Christmas train, etc.) with great success. So I was fully expecting to have little mini-cakes looking something like this:
But the cakes were wedged right into all the pan’s nooks and crannies, in spite of its space-age non-stick coating and the lavish greasing-up I had given it. So what we ended up with was this:
Cringing, I said, “Boys, we have a trainwreck on our hands.” I was expecting howls, but somehow they didn’t look too bothered. I asked them to come decorate it, and they came scurrying into our community kitchen. We started with sifting confectioner’s sugar over the top (snow – the cause of the crash), and then they started globbing leftover sparkly yellow and green icing everywhere. Another friend wandered by and got involved. We had those little sour fruits left over from E.’s birthday party, so we decided it was a fruit train that crashed, and they started placing the little pieces carefully around the pile. We snipped up a piece of fruit leather into train tracks, and I had an ancient rock candy lollipop that was maybe a puff of blue smoke coming from the wreck.
I watched their total focus on the job, amazed at how captivated they were. It was an imperfect product, but they didn’t mind. And I wasn’t inclined to try to drive them to neatly outline the wheels with the icing, or put the pieces of fruit just so in one of the little freight cars. It became theirs. They proudly explained the project to anyone who wandered in, and then I heard my neighbors giggling and explaining the story to each other. I started to think I maybe wasn’t so bad at this parenting thing after all.
And here’s the finished product, with my neighbor’s beautiful gingerbread houses in the background. Beautiful, both.