In a recent last post I outlined the numerous activities I’ve used to keep Abigail entertained in the looooong harsh winter months. Luckily my daughter loves books, so we do a lot of reading now that she’s finally at an age where she can quell the ants in her pants long enough to sit through a book. She tends to cycle through books, fixating obsessively on one or two books for a week or two, then she’s on to other adventures. Her recent loves have included Where the Wild Things Are and Puff the Magic Dragon (my girl loves dragons and monsters, go figure), and something called Hug Time (or, as Erik puts it, “the one with the environmentalist agenda”) but we’ve also gone through Goodnight Moon, The Paperbag Princess (my personal favourite – “Ronald, you are a bum!” …gets me every time…), Ten in the Bed, How to Catch a Star (or, as she calls it, “Boy and the star” – if you don’t know Oliver Jeffers you should, his books are enchanting), and a little gem called Pinkalicious.
Pinkalicious is the story of a girl who eats so many pink cupcakes that she turns pink herself. I’m totally in love with this book, I think it’s adorable and has a pretty good central message for girls (“I was myself again, and I was beautiful.”) When I was pregnant with Abigail I kept thinking that I didn’t want her to be defined by feminine stereotypes, and that included the propensity to surround little girls with a multitude of pink frilly things that may or may not send the message that girls are dainty and fragile and frivolous. But I’ve kind of reversed my thinking on this. I can’t totally control her environment (and this has been true right from the start, shocker), she’s a girl, she likes “girly” things, and ultimately I think you can be feminine AND strong AND smart. It’s a little disheartening that so many toys are so very gender-specific (and Disney clearly has a monopoly – Disney Princesses for girls, Disney Cars for boys – seriously?), but Abigail plays with dolls and Hot Wheels, often while wearing a tutu and pirate bandana, and her brother can play with trucks and dolls, as far as I’m concerned.
When I bought the book I didn’t realize there’s a whole Pinkalicious marketing empire, including several other books, merchandise, and incredibly, Pinkalicious the Musical. Is there nothing that can’t be set to a tune?? I was willing to hop on the pink bandwagon and plan a Pinkalicious third birthday party for Abigail this summer, but it looks like a pirate theme (!) is winning out, if the number of eye patches she draws on the figures in her colouring books is anything to go by. There’s an especially disturbing picture of Dora and Boots with crayon-blackened eyes in one of her colouring books – Erik and I were relieved to discover that she was adding “eye patches” and not possessed by a demon.
Anyway, during her Pinkalicious phase a few weeks ago I had the bright idea to bake pink cupcakes with Abigail for our first cooperative baking adventure together. Because I’m not totally insane, I bought a cake mix and canned icing and threw in some pink food colouring. Not my typical M.O., but I figured we were both more likely to enjoy this experience if we weren’t fiddling with a from-scratch cake recipe because Abigail’s attention span is unpredictable, but she surprised me and was totally into making cupcakes with me. I do harbour a little hope that one day that will be us, and maybe Spencer too, working on beloved recipes like my grandmother’s German Soup and my mom’s meatloaf and my aunt’ s molasses cookies that can also be used for a gingerbread house, or my cherry cheese brownies or mint chocolate squares or the almond bars their dad likes, or trying out new recipes, like I do for her birthday cake every year (you know, all two of them…I especially loved the triple-layer pink velvet cake with cream cheese icing that I made last year…). I do a lot of baking, and I am hopeful that Abigail will enjoy it as much as I do – she already enjoys the fruits of my labour, but it would be nice if she would take the same satisfaction I do from creating something visually pleasing that tastes good, can be shared, and usually makes other people happy.
For many of these adventures Abigail has had the same partner in crime, her friend Gideon. Gideon is the most chill and easygoing of toddlers, so he’s the perfect foil to Abigail’s sometimes high-strung antics. He basically lets her get away with almost anything, the poor little guy. I fear for his teenage self the first time he falls in love – it will probably be with someone just like Abigail who will wipe the floor with his nice-guy heart. But for now the dynamic works as long as he doesn’t try to hug her (learned that one the hard way). His mom and I met in the kids’ swimming lessons, and we’ve taken them to the park, the zoo, on playdates, the Children’s Museum, and most notably, the recent live-action Max & Ruby show here in Ottawa. Now that was an experience – people in giant rabbit costumes re-enacting one of the show’s episodes. Trippy.
Gideon came over for a playdate after Abigail and I baked the cupcakes, so in an effort to entertain the two of them once the novelty of my giant emergency Play Doh box ran out, I assembled some decorating supplies and let them have a go at decorating their own cupcakes. This was the result, which I think is indicative of their respective personalities. Better than a Rorschach test, no?
Being the total Type A that I am, I had to decorate a few myself, and made them true “Pinkalicious” cupcakes – Abigail loved having these for dessert for days after, as did her mom (and her dad too).