Almost a month ago, when we started planning my eldest son's birthday, my daughter (who is our eldest) immediately started quizzing her younger brother on what the theme would be and what kind of cake she could make for him.
We have a baker on our hands. This is dangerous for a food-lover like me, but that's a story for another time.
The weeks passed by and my daughter continued to insist that she was going to be making my son's Star Wars cake. Fast forward to this past Monday when she informed me that she would be needing fondant because that's what the cake called for. She's never used fondant and didn't even know where she could find it. I raised my eyebrows and asked her what kind of cake she was going to make. She matter of factly told me that she'd be making the Death Star. With eyebrows, raised, I said, "Really?"
You see, THIS is what the Death Star looks like. It's a three dimensional sphere. I tried to hide my skepticism while listening to her explain to me that she'd already looked it up and watched a video on YouTube that explains how to do it. She reviewed it with my husband who also agreed that it should be doable. Now, where can we get the fondant?
Wednesday night rolls around - two nights before the birthday party - and my daughter is making arrangements for her friends to come over and help her make the cake and organize her closet (we were in the midst of spring cleaning). Assessing the need to make a backup plan, I ask her again if she thinks she's going to be able to get the cake done and her room cleaned. She is confident.
Thursday night I come home and she tells me not to look at the cake. She tells me it turned out awful. The food coloring didn't work out so instead of a grey Death Star, she had something purple that only remotely resembled what she was going after. She started to talk to me about how embarrassed she was to have to serve this to her brother's friends. I reminded her that eight and nine year old boys will not care in the least - she made a yummy three-layer cake that they will devour without any thought to what it looks like. But there was more to it. There was a lesson here.
You see, I probably wouldn't have even attempted the cake she made. I was skeptical of what she was doing, not because I didn't think she could do it, but because I questioned whether or not I could do it. My husband, ever supportive of all my kids' crazy ideas, not only told her she could do it, but he helped her accomplish it. Did it turn out like the Death Star? Not exactly. Who cares? My daughter looked uncertainty, challenge and learning something new in the face. And she went for it. Without abandon. I have much to learn from her.
I reminded her of all of this and then started to think about how we could make it into something she was less embarrassed to claim as her own. We discussed perhaps making it a planet instead of the Death Star and then embarked on a fun mission of finding tiny aircrafts and action figures to decorate the cake with. Within 30 minutes, my daughter was breathing a sigh of relief and happy to tell people she made it. Everyone was so impressed with what a twelve year old had accomplished. I'm pretty sure they were, like me, thinking that they couldn't even do it. But they never tried.
You never try, you never learn. Sometimes you learn the best things by trying and failing. That's the beauty in life.