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Parents Butterfly Cakes and Parenting Skills
By Chrissy Siggee

"No! And that's my final word."

Sarah was irritable. Her twin daughters, Lucy and Annie, had been arguing with her for almost fifteen minutes. They had been invited to their best friend, Amy's, 'teen theme' birthday party the following Saturday. The problem was, she was turning eight; the same age as the twins.

The girls stomped off to their bedroom just as the telephone rang. Sarah took a deep breath and released it slowly.

"Hello." Rubbing her forehead she leaned against the wall to ease the weariness that threatened to overtake her.

"Well, you sound happy." It was Connie, Amy's mother.

"Hello, Connie. I'm sorry, sometimes I find parenting a little stressful."

"You, of all people, Sarah. You're a great parent. You always seem to have it all under control."

"Well not today. What can I do for you, Connie?"

"I was just checking if the girls are coming on Saturday."

"Actually, it was the party we were discussing. I just don't feel the theme is appropriate for eight-year-olds. Peter and I made the decision a long time ago that they are not to attend a party which goes against our Christian values."

Sarah cringed as she realized what she had said. Connie was a good friend who attended the same church.

Connie sighed on the other end of the phone. "Can I be frank with you, Sarah?"

"Sure, we're friends."

"It was Amy's suggestion. In fact, she demanded it. To be honest, I have been trying to keep the peace around here. We received a letter from her teacher last week concerning Amy's rebellious behavior."

Sarah made herself busy at the stove.

"Yesterday, we went shopping to buy her an outfit for the party. I have never been so embarrassed. Her performance was appalling. She insisted on purchasing the skimpiest pair of shorts I have ever seen and the top barely covered her. There wasn't enough material to cover her navel." Connie's voice reached an intense pitch.

Sarah stirred the contents of the saucepan. 'Lord, why is it so hard to do what is right as a parent?'

"Sarah, why does parenting have to be so hard?"

"I don't think any parent finds it easy, Connie. We aren't born with the skills either. We all have to learn them--"

Connie continued talking before Sarah could finish. "I was just telling my mother yesterday that I remember some of my own childhood birthday celebrations. We used to dress up in our Sunday best and eat those yummy cakes. You know the little ones, Sarah, the ones you make so well. You scoop out the little piece from the top, and then add just the right size dollop of cream, before cutting that extra piece in half and sitting it in just the right spot on top, then sprinkling icing sugar over it all to give it that perfect sweetness."

"Butterfly cakes." Sarah smiled at Connie's description. "It almost sounds like parenting skills. You need just the right balance to get it right." She laughed at her own illustration.

"Oh, Sarah, I just had a marvelous idea. Why don't I call all the parents and tell them I've changed the theme? It will be a good, old-fashion party for an eight-year-old girl. They can all dress in their Sunday best, and you could make butterfly cakes. I think it's about time I initiated some parenting skills. The first thing I'll introduce is Christian values."

Sarah laughed. "All right. I'll talk to Peter tonight. He should be happy with the change, and yes, I think it's a wonderful idea. Bye, Connie."

"Bye, Sarah."

Sarah was still smiling after she hung up the phone. She turned to see the twins standing at the door, their arms folded in a defiant manner.

"What's so wonderful?" Annie asked sourly.

"Well, first of all, go and get the flower-girl dresses you wore to Uncle Ted's wedding, and put them on the sewing table. Then, we need to start on some parenting skills."

"What are you talking about?" Lucy was totally confused.

"I'm going to bake some butterfly cakes, and you two can help. It's never too early to learn."
CHRISSY SIGGEE has two adult children and three grandchildren. She is a freelance writer, currently living with her husband in Queensland, Australia. If you would like to write to Chrissy, you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.