“Cheap beer? Are you kidding me!? The least you could have done was put me in here next to a nice bottle of  Champagne.”

All day Friday, this scene in my refrigerator made me giggle. I imagined a number of spoiled, demanding comments emanating from the princess Barbie cake, her hand raised in protest.  Last year on Mini Whipped’s birthday,  I wrote about my efforts to create a pink paradise for her starting with pink pepto-bismal colored pancakes all the way through to the triple pink cupcake dessert. This year, I surprised her with this princess cake. It wasn’t quite the home run I expected.

Mini Whipped loves pink. She isn’t totally obsessed with princesses (yet) but she is physically moved when watching the classic princess movies. I’m not much of a girly girl. I don’t wear pink very often and I should probably pay more attention to hair and makeup than I do. The princess culture is a bit bothersome to me as I worry slightly about the message we are feeding little girls about fairytale romance. Marriage, love and partnerships take work. I am fortunate to have a fantastic marriage and often, it feels like a fairytale romance. But, we also work hard to accommodate the other, communicate, and keep the “spark” alive. When I see my 4 year-old’s eyes welling up with tears as “prince charming” kisses Snow White awake, I cringe, just slightly. I know, I know… what a wet blanket.

Despite being a bit of a princess grinch, I have always been drawn to princess cakes where domed cake becomes ball gown. Mini Whipped requested red velvet birthday cake with princesses on it. I decided I would surprise her by making the cake into a princess.

I watched a few videos on YouTube to learn tips and tricks about making this cake. I used two 6-inch cake rounds and an oven-proof bowl for the mound on top. This video had some helpful frosting and assembly tips. Mini Whipped has a few Barbies that she rarely plays with so I planned to use one of them as the cake topper. Unfortunately, my stacked dome was not tall enough to accommodate her long legs, mostly due to her feet being formed into permanent ultra high heeled form (urgh). I made the decision to detach her legs to fit in my cake.

I truly thought that the legs would pop off and then back on again later. But, I guess Barbies aren’t made with ball and socket joints. So, this Barbie became an amputee in order to wear a red velvet cake skirt. I believed it would all be worth it! I tucked her legs in the back of the cupboard, thinking they might be funny cake toppers of their own some day – Halloween, diving into a blue “swimming pool” cake?

The big moment came. With a table full of family members, I brought the cake out and set it down in front of Mini Whipped. The grand parents gasped and praised the cake. The birthday girl smiled politely. She definitely did not have the same look on her face as she does when Cinderella pulls the second glass slipper out from under her apron. We lit the candles and sang and immediately after, Mini Whipped requested, “can you please take my doll out of there now?”

I whisked the cake off to the kitchen to hide the fact that Barbie had no legs under her skirt! While eating the cake, Mini Whipped gave me a number of compliments on the frosting, the cake and the color. The sweet thing felt our expectations that she would love the cake and she was being as polite as she could to make me feel good. She just didn’t like that doll in the cake. She asked for princesses on the cake. And, I didn’t listen.

Once again, during my daughter’s birthday, I reflect on the many emotions of parenting. I made a cake that I thought she would adore and I didn’t quite hit the mark. She sensed my disappointment and did her best to boost me up. While I was putting Mini Whipped to bed that night, I told her I was glad she had such a fantastic birthday but that I was sorry that she didn’t love the cake. She stroked my cheek and reassured, “I did love that cake mommy. I just didn’t like my doll in there.”

As for Barbie, both her separated legs and body are still safely hidden in the cupboard. For now, Mini Whipped seems to have forgotten about her. I’m hoping it stays that way.