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Ninjago!

A curse on them all! May an endless variety of worms feed sweetly upon their thrifty little efficiencies. Hell is the only place fit for such dismal crampings of the style of our being. Earth must not be entrusted to such [mirthless] people. Their touch is death to all that is counter, original, strange, and spare about us. In their hands, the joy of our randomness and oddness is crushed until the millstone of monotonous consistency. God may be simple, but simplicity makes a bad god.

Robert Farrar Capon

I don’t do parties. I don’t know how to plan them, I don’t know how to propel them, I don’t know how to end them. I do know how to clean up. Looking back, that’s usually what I did to escape the large crowds whose emotive data was too overwhelming — I’d hide in the kitchen to help.

My mom wasn’t into parties either. When September would come around, she’d say, “Honey, do you want a birthday party or a larger present?” Duh! Get me the present!

I have not yet been entreated by my small ones to plan a Monkey Joes’ event or Chuckie Cheese frenzy, so I defer to the ever-reliable Lorraine-Kaminski-strategy of bringing an extra-fun treat to school. It’s controlled, special, social, and easily escapable.

This year it’s Lego Ninjago. . . . You don’t know about Lego Ninjago? You must be living on a 6-to-10-year-old-male-free planet then. Walk to any toy department, amble over to the Legos, and you’ll see it. A gathering of school-age boys bragging and swaggering over the spinners and blocks. It’s rather delightful to watch, all these little men with their budding testosterone setting out to conquer the world with just the right tiny, golden shuriken. That child-development classic, Ames and Ilg, describe that character trait to which Ninjago appeals:

[Eight’s] tempo is rapid when he talks, reads, writes, or practices the piano. His wolfs down food, sitting on the edge of his chair, ready to bolt outdoors without pulling up his socks or tucking in his shirt. Eight-year-old boys may add a little bravado to their slap-dash demeanor to emphasize their masculine toughness.

So this is what Mommy must indulge. Mommy shall make a Lego Ninjago treat for all the little classmates and the Lego club to follow. Cake pops. Make any ol’ cake. Crumble. Add frosting. Chill. Ball. Chill more. Stick in stick. Chill more. Melt melts. Dip in yellow. Spoon over with Ninjago color for each Ninja. Cuss at food-writer marker. Scribble brows and eyes. Wrap. Nap. Deliver. Escape.

There’s nothing predictable or orderly about the process. It is random. It is odd. It is more risk than control. More art than science. And this cook cannot anticipate exactly how things will procede. Sticks poke through, Ninjas tumble to their death, coating cracks, cake crumbles mar the aesthetic. Ninjas perspire and smudge their brows. No, this is spontaneous and inconsistent. Generous and, if Capon is right, full of joy.

Happy Party at School, my love!

Ninjago!
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