Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Evils Of Leap Years

The Mau-Mau, like most six-year-old girls, is not hugely endowed with patience. Especially when it comes to things like, oh, Christmas. Or birthdays, for that matter.

The little pile of presents under the tree is tormenting her. It's as though it has its own gravity well, that works purely on the Mau-mau. She can't pass it by without being magically drawn to it, then frozen in the spot, staring longingly at the colourful paper and the enticing shapes.

Of course, the fact that it's Genghis' birthday just before Xmas pisses her off mightily. She and Genghis are frequently mortal enemies, and she strongly resents anything that happens to him or for him which she feels should properly be directed to her. By way of example: as we drove into Launceston today, to do an afternoon of gymnastics classes at the PCYC, a conversation developed vis-a-vis birthday cakes. And since I'm the chief caker-baker in this house, naturally I asked Genghis what kind of cake he might like....

Genghis:"Oh. Well. A multi-layered cake would be nice. With different flavoured icing between the layers."

Me: "Aha. Okay. Well - what kind of cake should it be?"

Mau-mau: "I had a cake with layers on my sixth birthday. It was so nice!"

Me: "Did you? I don't recall."

Genghis: "She did. You made it. It was really awesome. There was a big cake on the bottom, and a little one on that, and a littler one at the top, and it was all covered with white icing and sliced strawberries."

Mau-mau: "Yes! Oooh, I loved that. My sixth birthday was really good."

Me: "Okay. Multi-layer. But... you want chocolate cake?"

Genghis: "That would be good. With chocolate icing outside. Can I have fizzy lemon icing in between?" (This is a reference to a culinary invention of mine: yes, I created fizzy cake frosting.)

Me: "I don't think so. I don't think it would be good with the chocolate."

Genghis: "Oh. What about mint? And raspberries?"

Me (my face is curdling at this point.) "Umm. Look. A few mint leaves with a raspberry dessert is one thing. But peppermint icing and fresh raspberries... I'm not ready to do that."

Genghis: "Oh."

Me: "I tell you what, though. I could do layers of peppermint marshmallow in between the layers of cake, and chocolate icing over the whole cake. How does that sound?"

Genghis: "Peppermint marshmallow? Oooh! That sounds good!"

Mau-mau (infuriated): "Are you trying to make your birthday better than mine?"

I'm not kidding. Those were her exact words. So there was a brief Dad interlude in which I explained quite pointedly that I was going to try just as hard for Genghis as I did for her, and that he deserved the best birthday we could manage... and if she didn't like it, she could spend the day in question in the Time-Out area under the stairs.

She didn't think much of that option.

Anyway. Later in the evening, after dinner, the Xmas tree once more worked its evil magic upon her. She stood and stared, sighing. And finally, she announced that she just couldn't wait for Christmas. And how many days was it now?

Natalie growled, and said we weren't having Xmas on Xmas anyhow, since she's working that day. The Mau-mau was pretty upset by that, especially when she found we couldn't have it the day before because of... wait for it... Genghis' birthday!

Anyway. When the fuss died down from that, she decided she had to know how many days it was until her own birthday. At this point, Natalie rolled her eyes and pointed out that the Mau-mau had first asked that question the very day after her last birthday. So Genghis piped up, and said that obviously, when she first asked, the answer was 365 days.

Unthinkingly, I pointed out that 2012 is a leap year, and therefore the correct answer was 366.

Uh-oh. A truly remarkable frown appeared on the Mau-mau's face. What was this about an extra day? Had someone put another day between her and her birthday?

Natalie tried to dismiss the topic, but the Mau-mau wasn't having any of that. Footstomping ensued. Genghis tried his almost-nine-year-old best to explain leap years, but that was no good either. The Mau-mau shouted at the top of her voice: "I hate Sleep Years!"

The resulting wave of hilarity didn't help the situation. In fact, it cranked her up no end; she was infuriated that we'd caught the mistake, and insisted she'd really said 'leap year' but her mouth was full of pencil, or something. And then she really let loose...

Apparently, Leap Years exist solely as a conspiracy to offend her by keeping her farther away from her birthday. That one extra day in the calendar is a deliberate, calculated attempt to destroy her life and her sanity. That's right, folks: you heard it here first. The sole reason there are Leap Years is so that my daughter has to wait an extra day between birthdays every four years or so...

You can probably guess the amount of sympathy that her outrage generated. The whole episode ended with her stomping off to bed, and having a good old weep into her pillow.

I'll fix it tomorrow. I'll tell her she's slept through the extra day, now, and everything's back on track. I'm sure that will work perfectly., if only I could figure out how to restore my own failing sanity so easily.