I always swore that was a piece of parenting advice that needed to be passed down somehow. This is both one of those things-I-never-thought-I’d-need-to-say and one of those how-the-heck-didn’t-they-know things.
Clearly you’ll need the full story to know why I am bestowing this particular tidbit of wisdom upon you.
Journey with me back about 8 years ago (imagine that sound effect from Wayne’s World…). My darling Sprout was 3. And the cutest, most enthusiastic 3-year-old you have ever seen.
Chubby cheeks, tiny little bob haircut. So adorable.
Little Sprout was invited to a birthday party, as 3-year-olds often are. And let me tell you, that kid loved a party!
Tiny children like that need to be escorted to parties, so I found myself in a lovely restored farm house surrounded by adorable children and their uncomfortable looking parents. I participated in small talk and watched Sprout partying with her little friends.
They played some games, ran around like lunatics for a while, and then the BIG event finally came. A scavenger hunt!
The party had a Dora The Explorer Theme. Those of you with kids in the Dora generation immediately thought “Come on, Vamanos, everybody let’s go!”, right? Maybe that’s just me.
Anyway – the scavenger hunt was also Dora themed…a parade of itty bitty explorers walked through the Icky Sticky Swamp (mud puddle), and the Sweaty Spaghetti Desert (sandbox), and crossed the Biiiig River (stone path), all on their search for the treasure at the end of the hunt.
Finally they were told to look for a tent and in the tent they would find the cake! Yay! Cake!!
And in my head I thought, surely they didn’t hide the actual cake. There is a stunt cake. A faux display cake. A plastic cake-like object that can withstand the joyous triumph of being discovered by an over exhuberant toddler.
And as I thought those thoughts, my little (highly competitive) Sprout RAN off in search of the tent. Because she wanted to WIN the scavenger hunt! And she loved cake!! Finding that stunt cake was going to be the highlight of the party for her.
And it was…she WON!! She found the cake…which I knew because she came out of the tent, shouting triumphantly “I FOUND THE CAKE!!!”….and clutching tightly to her chest, with her itty bitty chubby little arms…a HUGE bakery box with the actual cake inside. THE ACTUAL CAKE!!!
The purchased from a store, decorated with Dora and Boots and the Gang, food for the party CAKE.
Left in a tent.
With the intention of being discovered by a rabid mob of cake-craving 3-year-olds.
Are you kidding me????
And Sprout was SO stinking proud. I think she thought it was now her own personal cake. What a score!
But the birthday Mom quickly realized what was going down…as she watched the carefully chosen, and probably highly coveted (by the birthday child) cake being crushed in a loving hug.
And she SWOOPED that cake out of Sprout’s arms. And left her, bewildered and cakeless…muttering, “I found it…”
She did get a (somewhat mangled) piece of cake, but it paled in comparison to the whole cake she thought she was getting to take home as a trophy for winning the scavenger hunt.
SO…it is with the wisdom of experience that I tell you…for goodness sake..DON’T HIDE THE REAL CAKE!