100 Candles

The 100th day of school is kind of a big deal. Necklaces of cheerios, dalmations with dots, tally marks, roll the dice… oh, the options for learning centers are endless.

We have been brainstorming for several weeks to decide together what Tyler would bring for his display of 100 things.

“Tyler, how about 100 pictures of you?”

“Eh, I don’t think so.”

“How about something built of 100 legos?”

“I need more than 100 to build anything good.”

“How about a flower pot of 100 lollipops?”

“I don’t like the word ‘lollipop.'”

“How about 100 eyeballs on a shirt?”

“Could you please stop suggesting ideas to me?”

Well, yes. I could. Except the deadline is quickly approaching, and I fear I am teaching you my acquired skills of procrastination and extended deadlines.

When I was a teacher, I valued most the projects that reflected the child’s creativity – not so much the mom’s craftsmanship. So I was pretty against doing this assignment for him, although my mind continued to reel with ideas even after he shut me down.

We were at T-48 hours until the 100th day of kindergarten.

“Tyler, how about a cake with 100 candles?”

“I’m still thinking.”

“Well, that’s what I’m going to get today because we are running out of time.” And I’m not pulling an all-nighter to finish this grandiose project. Those days in my life are O-V-E-R.

I picked him up from school, now on the 99th day. We had one evening left. Cake: Purchased. Candles: Purchased. All that remained was his careful design.

“Mommy! I’ve decided what I want to do, and I don’t want to do the cake anymore. I want to build a castle with 100 sugar cubes!” His face beamed with ‘don’t you think I’m brilliant for coming up with this plan?’

And then I was stuck, torn between honoring his creativity and letting the project be wholly his, versus the consequences of waiting until the night before when the preparation has called for help from other people.

Perhaps you would have made a different choice. But I leaned toward the greater benefit that will honor his wife, future group projects in college, and creative teams of his future.

“Buddy, it’s too late. We’re doing the cake.”

His disappointment dissipated in less than three minutes. I attribute this to the beauty and intrinsic joy of frosting.

(I resisted the urge to organize his candles for him. But I would just like to say: I had a really great idea. I mean, really great.)

100 candles for 100 days.

There was great concern over how the cake would be delivered safely to the classroom. Given my history of dropping cakes (I dropped my dad’s birthday cake a couple of weeks ago, which brings me to a ridiculous total of cakes I’ve dropped.), Tyler believed it would be safest to shove the cake along the sidewalk. Surely that’s safer than Mommy carrying it.

In the end, the cake arrived safely, with a lot of teamwork, encouragement, and paving of the path. “Mommy, please use both hands. It doesn’t go well when you use one hand.”

Fair enough.

As an added bonus, his class ate the cake as part of their 100 Party. Somehow, this didn’t even cross my mind as a possibility. I guess I pictured it on long-term display with fingerprints of stolen licks of frosting. His teacher is smarter than I.

So, you know, bonus.

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