The Most Beautiful Cake

A child's birthday party is probably one of the most chaotic, exhausting experiences a parent will ever have. But there are rewards ...

Want a migraine? Get about twenty children and put them in a room full of balls, balance beams and things they can bounce on.

My youngest daughter turned four-years-old Sunday, and this was her birthday party — real, raw and raucous. It was kind of a rave for kids, except that instead of illegal drugs, their crack was juice and cake. I do it every year, and every year I think, "Am I insane?"

I watched them circle the room at the gym we rented with frenetic energy, as if they might miss something if they slowed down for one minute.

Parents of younger children had to spot their kids at every turn, hold their hands on the balance beam, kiss scraped knees, and catch them as they propelled through the air on the uneven bars. Amazingly, there were few injuries and even fewer tears.

The teens that ran the place, bless their hearts, had almost as much boundless energy and enthusiasm as the children. They kept the kids moving, kept them entertained, and kept smiles on their faces.

When they finally settled into the “party room” for cake served on Curious George plates, my older glass-half-empty daughter pointed out the one flaw.

“Mommy, you didn’t get the Curious George cake,” she said looking directly at her little sister, hoping to get a reaction.

The adults lined up along the wall took a collective breath and that seemed to suck all of the air out of the room. For the first time during the party it was quiet.

My sweet four-year-old looked at the plan white cake with its pink border and simple "Happy Birthday" message and studied it. I was afraid for a moment that she was going to cry. Then, she looked up at me with a cherubic smile on her face and said: “Mommy, I think it’s the most beautiful cake.”

We all exhaled and laughter flitted through the room.

I’ll be back next year, and guess what, I’m not insane.


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