Lecture For The Day: Your Poop Does Not Deserve A Parade.

(Please be aware that this is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, so don't bother leaving any toilet training tips. I dealt with that years ago and have no desire to go through it again.)

I have a theory about why people don't want to be bothered with practicing anything these days, and it has to do with toilet training.

Bear with me on this...

I've been a work-at-home-mom since my kids were little, so I see lots of commercials during daytime tv. Many of these commercials are for products for young children, and since my kids are older teenagers now I've seen how diaper commercials have changed through the years. It also keeps me abreast of the trends in toilet training, which have really become ridiculous, if you ask me.

Apparently the new thing is to celebrate the "first flush" with a big party. Woo hoo, little Johnny figured out how to use the toilet! Let's celebrate and make a huge deal about it! Hooray! I don't remember this being a "thing" when my kids were little. 18 years ago we just bribed them with candy, not a celebration.

Now don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the fact that not having to change diapers anymore is a fine, fine thing. But making a huge deal about flushing the toilet seems like it would set a very bad precedent. I remember when they had that stupid commercial with people doing "the potty dance" where you were supposed to dance and celebrate when the child used the toilet. Well, what happens when little Johnny gets a big celebration the first time he poops in the right place? I'll tell you what happens, he starts to think that a basic, mundane bodily function is a super high achievement and that his poop is super special.

This will result in doom, I tell you...An entire generation of potty dancing children are being raised to think that their poop is an accomplishment. No, it's poop.

This potty dancing, poop celebrating thing is probably an outgrowth of the "everybody gets a trophy for showing up" movement that started in the 1980's. The idea that every child needs a trophy is really, really bad. All that does it teach a kid that showing up and making an effort is also super special and deserves an award. What we should be teaching kids is that showing up and making an effort is the basic requirement of living, and that they might actually be frustrated every now and then. But that IF THEY WORK AND TRY, they will get better and might eventually win a real award. And they they can feel like they accomplished something. (Most kids who are on those "an award in every hand" teams know that those trophies are complete BS, just ask them.)

People who are handed an award for showing up do not learn frustration tolerance.

Now how does this relate to cake decorating, you might ask. Or you might already see the connection. The connection is that people who are handed a trophy for showing up, or who are taught that their poop deserves a parade, do not end up thinking that they should have to make an effort, because that's just too frustrating and difficult. They want to be celebrated for doing the minimum, for just showing up. Nobody wants to have to work at something, they want to be able to try a new skill and get perfect results and praise for it the first time. They want a parade for their poop.

Now I'm not just targeting people who have grown up in the last 30 years, either. I'm saying that anyone who takes the fake praise seriously that they get from family and friends telling them that their cakes are awesome, when they really look like a pile of poop, needs to get a reality check. Just because you have a group of people trying to give you a poop parade it doesn't mean that the parade makes any sense.

There are plenty of people who don't want to work, they just want to buy (or get for free) a tutorial that will magically make them an expert. And when you tell them that they have to work at it...oh nooooooo. Not that!

There are certain things in cake decorating (and in life) that just require practice. You can whine about not having the right equipment, or the right tutorial, or the right icing, or the right cake, but even if you do have all of that you'll need to practice. Practice, practice, practice some more. If you don't want to practice you won't get the hang of the skill, and you'll never be able to do it. It can be frustrating, but you won't die from frustration.

I once saw a video of a woman decorating a cake in her crappy kitchen with tools like a bent spatula, a piping bag made from a paper towel, and a rusty piping tip. I swear she had the worst equipment ever, but she was doing an amazing job with what she had. She had obviously practiced A LOT and was able to get good results because of it. I bet nobody threw her a poop parade the first time she picked up the paper towel piping bag, either.

That season of American Idol that had Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard on it is another good example...It was interesting to me, because those two were the ones who would listen to the judges critiques and really work on what they said. They didn't get defensive and reject the judges for being "haters" or for not giving them a poop parade if their performance wasn't great that week. They would listen to the feedback and come back the next week after practicing and working on those things. They both did that, and they both ended up doing fairly well on the show, if I remember correctly.

So the next time you try something new and it doesn't come out the way you want it to, don't blame your equipment, don't blame your lack of a tutorial, just keep trying it until you figure it out. You're not going to be able to get everything right the first time, so don't expect that you will. Don't expect that minimal effort expended will earn you a parade, because it shouldn't. Keep working until you actually have something that's worth throwing a parade for.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

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