The Unbearable Banishment: The first cut is the deepest

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The first cut is the deepest

We took 7-Year Old Daughter to a birthday party in Washington, D.C. It was held at a fancy bakery. The pastry chef gave a demonstration to all the girls on how to decorate a cake. They were instructed on what type of flourish each frosting tip would render. Ribbons. Roses. Flower petals. Swirls. Then, they were each given their own cake to decorate.

Art is not The Daughter’s strong suit, despite the exposure she’s had to some world-class museums. She enjoys taking it all in but, frankly, isn’t very good at producing it. Her cake was a bit of a catastrophe. She made some unfortunate shapes and blobs of frosting. The colors didn’t match and there was no order to it.

A few of the other girls, however, made splendid cakes. Especially 8-Year Old Niece, who has an uncanny talent for art that borders on macabre. Daughter took one look at the other beautiful productions, looked down at her own, and the look on her face broke my heart 10,000 times. She said, “My cake looks stupid.”

Do you remember the first time your own mediocrity was revealed to you? What could I do? I knew what she meant. I’ve had that feeling many times. I told her that her cake was beautiful but it rang hollow. Then, I said the only thing I could think of: “I love you very much.”

* * *

These pics are from a few weeks ago when Sister #2 was visiting. Contrary to popular stereotype, New Jersey isn’t ALL chemical plants. We took her to the beach but also for a walk in the forest. She took these of the two Daughters and I strolling a well-worn path through a thick woods. I like the first pic but the second one is a classic because of 3-Year Old Daughter's over-the-shoulder glance back.


Blogger ~E said...

Woohoo! Im first!

To begin with, I think the pics are lovely.

And in my experience, an "I love you" from the heart fixes any pain... I'm sure your daughter understood that.
Good job, Daddy!

November 8, 2009 at 12:40 AM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

Lovely pics. Except the "looking back" one does make you look ever so slightly like a pervert taking your captives home for a biology lesson.

Just slightly.....

(it's ok I know you're a devoted dad)

November 8, 2009 at 1:58 AM  
Blogger Ellie said...

In 5th grade my music teacher asked me if I was tone deaf. My first brush with mediocrity (and the possibility that my mother - who used to tell me that I was a great singer - was entirely truthful with me).

You're a great dad.

November 8, 2009 at 2:52 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Bastard said...

I got your meaning my friend. That first moment of realisation can be the beginning of many steps forward or back.

Nice touch.

November 8, 2009 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger JZ said...

Creativity comes in many shapes and sizes. If you're going to find yourself mediocre at something, I'd say cake decoration is an acceptable medium.

D#1 may not be destined for that particular Applied Art, but I'm confident she will emerge from your care a thoughtful, contributing, DESIGNING member of civilization's 'grand experiment'.

Astro-physics, perhaps? Jodie Foster can be very inspiring. ;-)

November 8, 2009 at 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Do you remember the first time your own mediocrity was revealed to you?"

not just the first, but every single mediocrity bash since. and yet another last week...

you handled it well. learning that not everyone excels at everything is important... did it taste just as good as the other cakes?

November 8, 2009 at 9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you did well. you can't really protect the kids through lying to them. that just hurts more.

my mediocrity? i continue to look at my new ones and look back on the old. wonder where in my tainted childhood i learned to do that. [heavy sigh]

November 8, 2009 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

E: She still seemed sad, despite my sentiment. It's a life lesson, I suppose.

Nurse: Even on second look it doesn't look like that. You went dark on me!

Ellie: I'm learning that I'm helpless when it comes to protecting them from disappointment.

Jimmy: And the bad thing is that her disappointment is my disappointment. I hope I don't wear it on my sleve. That'd be the wrong message.

JZ: I hope she finds something damn quick. She thinks she's a song-and-dance girl but that's not showing a lot of promise, either.

Daisy: You're right. Once they're cut up, they all pretty much look the same.

Gnu: Lying use to be my out but Mrs. Wife talked me out of that strategy. It was a hell of a lot easier than telling the truth!

November 8, 2009 at 3:21 PM  
Blogger Here In Franklin said...

My cake would've looked like crap. Fortunately, there are LOTS of ways to be creative.

November 8, 2009 at 5:51 PM  
Blogger mapstew said...

I have three daughters , all different in most ways.

We just try to teach them that everyone is different, we all have our own ways, and our own different 'talents'!

We (meself & Herself) Both came from big families, where we each had to develop our own personalities in order to survive as individuals! (Oh yeah, and we knew that as three year olds!)

I'm just trying to say, with parents like you, I guess she will be just fine!


November 8, 2009 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger Sid said...

Where are the picture of the cakes though? Such a nice idea for a birthday party.

When I was in pre-primary school all I painted was blobs of blue. Absolutely no form. It was only when I looked at the girl's work next to me that I realised you could create reality i.e. paint houses and people. Can't say I was bummed or even realised that I was mediocre at the time.

November 9, 2009 at 3:33 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

HIF: My cake would have looked awful, as well. We just don't have it in us. What the hell happened to the Titans?

Map: Your daughters are a bit older than my two. Don't tell me what happens when they hit their teens. I want to be surprised.

Sid: Actually, it was a very clever idea for a party, but the take-away was an entire round, medium-sized cake. It's a bit much to have in the house. We're still getting through the Halloween candy!

November 9, 2009 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger expat@large said...

Can I be a naughty boy and steal the phrase "boarders on the macabre" - I realize it's just a typo but it reminds me of when I was sharing a flat a few years ago, and I had to laugh...

Re: the cake. :-( And i hope you gave a kiss and a hug too. And ATE the cake and ENJOYED eating the cake.

I got that clumsy incompetent feeling a lot when I was young. But I turned out ok,... For e.g.: here I am plagiarizing typos from a complete stranger! Who woulda thunk?

NO, don't show her my blog as an example!


November 9, 2009 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Expat: I am the Typo King of the blogosphere. My reader have come to expect nothing less.

November 9, 2009 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Pearl said...

Aww. I know that feeling, when you realize that you don't fully measure up.

It's lovely that your daughter has a father who recognizes that moment.


November 9, 2009 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger mapstew said...

Oh you'll be surprised for sure! :¬)

November 9, 2009 at 7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your a great dad did I ever tell you that? Ours would have laughed at us and probably never let us live it down!

November 9, 2009 at 8:43 PM  
Blogger Tennyson ee Hemingway said...

Yeah, mediocrity is a bitch but at least she's not growing up with the sense of entitlement that almost all the youth of today have. We all have to learn sometime.

November 10, 2009 at 9:50 PM  

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