they rushed to the counter or to their parents. all nine of them. well, those were the kids that flashed around when they saw the tree of chocolaty wonder that was dessert. the adults were a bit more patient, at least in action, i am sure our minds had already wiped the last chocolaty crumb off of our grown-up chins. the ‘tasty dessert’ in question? chocolate-covered-cake on a stick – it has a way of drawing a crowd. actually, anything on a stick has a way of drawing a crowd – twinkies, bananas, pickles, hot dogs, heads, really, anything. but, this was not just chocolate-covered-cake on a stick, this was chocolate-covered-cake on a stick with an assortment of toppings. m&m’s, sprinkles, some white shaved stuff – i think coconut, anything that would stick to chocolate was stuck. yes, they were good. the cake maintained a rich, thick moistness that demanded a break in-between bites. the beauty of this sweet creation? you didn’t have to rush back for your second bite, save that nonsense for eating an ice cream cone outdoors on a ninety plus degree day (i bite ice cream and it drives r. nuts), nope, no hurry here, your next bite just sat there, waiting for you, waiting for you to peel the last bite off the roof of your mouth, take a drink of milk, and repeat. r.’s mom c., with the assistance of her two grand-girls, a. and h., brought these wonders into the world the night before our family get together in eau claire, wi – hometown to one mrs. r.. how could someone not want chocolate-covered-cake on a stick? we all love chocolate-covered-cake on a stick. have i got you reaching for your ‘back-up’ bag of m&m’s in the bottom right hand drawer of your desk?

what interested me about the ritual of dessert during a party, specifically dessert during a party with kids, was not that kids and adults alike wanted the dessert, but how each person went about getting their hands on it. okay, some did not want any, and they, more often than not, gave reasons for their refusal, “oh no, i, ah, that brat just filled me up.” “oh those are for the kids.” “hmm. we’ll see i may get one later.”. pleasantries to explain something that really didn’t matter to anyone else. i mean, i was going to get mine, why should i care if someone else wants one or how and when they are going to get it?

the verbal dance between parent and child at dessert time, dessert time at seven o’clock when parents are thinking about a pre-bed-sugar buzz and kids are low on natural energy, is, i imagine, fun for grandparents, or anyone without kids, to watch.

some kids grabbed a stick without thinking twice – their parents watching out of the corner of their eye, waiting to pounce if they went back for a second, and more often than not – they do. mom or dad is then forced to step in, “hey there, you had one already, make sure everyone else gets one.” “but there are enough.” sputters out between half-sugar-buzzed-lips soaked in chocolate. “well, wait and see.” a huff and a puff and back to the couch until mom and dad aren’t looking and then they swoop in for “seconds”. mom and dad usually see, but let them think they “got away” with something. plus, it would interrupt their conversation with uncle chet and they look like “party-poopers”.

some went to their parents for approval, “mom, can i have one?” “yes, honey, but finish that last bit of brat.” as the child in question watched his family members grab dessert at will, without parent approval, he grew angry “but mom. i want one now.” mom, slightly more agitated “do you want one at all?” “yes.” the brat goes in quick and almost comes out with the rest of dinner. “geesh you’re going to choke. sit down, chew your food, and you may get dessert.” “brao k.”

some tag behind their siblings (a great younger sibling tactic. use your older brother/sister as a shield, mom and dad notice you’re going for thirds, they get caught, you grab dessert and give a great big smile to your sibling who is now forced to sit close to mom and dad as they talk to great-aunt martha.), others monitor their own dinner and dessert timing, and some run to the other room to play. in the end, after the sugar runs its course, there are tears for not getting more, tears from having too much, tears because someone got more than them, and tears because everyone else has tears. my grandmother, not to my recollection but i was told, used to say “all that laughing will end in tears.” i once said that to a student – he told me i was a ‘sick, sad man’.

there are different ways to getting our needs/wants met. we learn how to deal with limited resources early on in life. we learn how to be happy with what we have, beg or connive for more, or give up on wanting what others have. fortunately, in this situation, there were enough sticks for everyone to get what they wanted. fortunately, we didn’t have to worry about running out. i am guessing there would have been many more tears had someone told the kids that the tenth kid at the party was taking a bath in the chocolate that their cake was dipped in, or better yet, that while he was taking a bath in chocolate he was brushing his teeth with the toppings, if that was the case, i am sure we would have had an outright, well, let’s just say things may not be good for our bathing friend. now, if they found out he was taking a bath in chocolate, brushing his teeth with toppings and didn’t have a bed-time – forget about it, the other nine would have made sure that that was his last chocolate bath. we avoided this potential catastrophe by providing enough for everyone, making sure each person had a reasonable amount, and not putting the entire emphasis of the party on dessert. everyone was reasonably happy.

a special thank you to all of our eau claire family for making it a nice visit. especially u.j., the girls uncle, for hosting the festivities.

*in the interest of full disclosure. 99% of my blogs are based entirely on the truth. this post happens to fall within the 1% range. i took some liberties with the facts of the evening, but in no way did i fudge the facts on the taste of dessert.