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Sarah Simpson Column: Let them eat cake…sometimes

Even the little things in life are cause for celebration

My husband was watching cartoons one day with our daughter, which is not entirely unusual.

They were watching Kazoops which, according to Wikipedia, is about “six-year-old Monty Kazoops, a boy with a vivid imagination, and his best friend Jimmy Jones, the family pet pig.”

Anyway, I gather young Monty decided his family needed to celebrate more. My husband and daughter didn’t watch the show in its entirety so nobody really knew why they needed to celebrate more but my husband’s take-away was that more mini-celebrations might not be a bad idea. What’s wrong with a little more positivity in life, am I right?

It sounded like a good idea at the time. Our son is highly critical of himself and could stand to pat himself on the back more and our daughter loves a good balloon…and who doesn’t like cake? In short, we’ve been celebrating more. Nothing epic. Just more formal acknowledgement of successes and more importantly, efforts.

At first this new celebration idea revolved around things truly worthy of celebration, like a good report card, for example.

We didn’t celebrate the academic part much — my son is in Grade 1 and there’s plenty of time to learn reading, writing and arithmetic — but we celebrated his teacher’s comments: that he was an engaged, focused, hard-working, and helpful student and that he was a friend to many. That’s some celebration cake worthy stuff!

It felt like kismet that the new 49th Parallel grocery store at Berkey’s Corner conveniently opened and sells these beautiful but tiny little cakes that come in all sorts of colours. They’re iced in bright colours and have sprinkles on top and a cherry in the middle and are just enough cake to tease your mouth but not so much that you feel guilty for eating it.

Bless their little hearts but the kids have come to an agreement to alternate who gets the cherry so there aren’t too many fights about that. Full disclosure though, I’m not new at this motherhood gig anymore. I keep a jar of emergency cherries in the fridge to head off any major cherry battles.

Anyway, as I was saying we’ve been celebrating more. Not copious amounts of celebration but significantly more than, say, birthdays and major holidays.

But then we got a kitten. If you haven’t been keeping up with my columns (WHY?) you wouldn’t know this but we’ve named him Timber, which seems apt because he’s really a frisky fellow and he’s really finding his groove when it comes to knocking things over.

Coincidentally, we learned the other day when Timber’s records arrived in the mail, that his birthday is actually the birthday of my husband’s late father, a man who was quite smitten with my former cat Murphy, though really only ever getting to see him on FaceTime. My husband’s dad lived in Calgary and in the later stages of his battle with cancer, would FaceTime with my husband every evening to chat. Murphy would always get in on the conversation as well.

We feel like the news Timber’s birthday was the same at my husband’s dad’s was a bit of a nod from the heavens that this kitty is where he belongs.

Wow that was a bit of a tangent. Moving on…

Anyway, we’ve been intentional about celebrating more and it’s been lovely to see what the children think is important. It turns out everything in our post-cat-acquisition world is important and/or worthy of celebration cake.

For example, my son lost his first tooth. It took ages to fall out compared to the first teeth of all his little classmates and friends. He’d been waiting and waiting so patiently. We totally celebrated that.

But then he was like “Hey, Mom! That was the first tooth I lost since we got a cat! Could we celebrate that?”

My daughter, suggested, “Hey, Mom, that was my first ball practice I’ve had since we got a cat! We should celebrate!”

Imagine some minor achievement, anything really, and add “since we got a cat” and apparently that’s cause to run out and buy a cake.

“Mom! I brushed my teeth! It was the first time since we got a cat! Can we celebrate?”

“Mom, I made my own cereal without spilling the milk for the first time since we got a cat! We should celebrate!”

“Mom! That was the first time I rode my bike since we got a cat! Can we get a cake?”

And so on and so on.

I think in the last month or so we’ve had three celebration cakes, so clearly not everything passes the bar Mom and Dad have set for cake.

What I have seen though, since that fateful Kazoops episode so captured my husband and daughter, is my children taking the time to recognize their tiny accomplishments. Yes, some of them are totally suspect, but ultimately, they’re learning about what pride feels like. They’re learning that everybody’s measure of success is different, they’re learning that celebrating doesn’t always require a major milestone or need to be a big party, or even need to feature a cake, they’re learning to find joy in the little things that people often overlook and to me, that’s a cause for celebration.

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