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Dear Lola,

My mother and I have a lovely tradition of taking tea together once per week. We almost always imbibe at my home as it gives my mother a chance to visit town. My problem is with the cake. I tried serving store-bought cake, but my mother made it clear she prefers my own recipes. However, each week she complains about the cake I’ve made. She complains of the consistency, the moisture level, the extra sugar, the lack of sugar, the choice of flavor, etc. It never ends. I also can’t help but notice that these complaints are said around a mouth full of goodies, since she eats more than a fair share of the inferior item. I’ve attempted to return to purchasing the cake but she insists we must have one I’ve made.

Please help me, I’m at my wit’s end!

Bone-Weary Baker 

Dear Lola

Dear Bone-Weary Baker,

I would like to start by addressing the very first sentence, in which you described this as a lovely tradition. I am sorry, but you are using the word lovely in the wrong way. Lovely means very pleasant, even delightful. This weekly gathering sounds like anything but. However, I’m going to chalk this up to survival instincts because no one wants to admit that their own mother has gone to the dark side and actually complains about cake. Cake, the most amazing food ever created on our planet! You must have an abundant supply of patience to have bitten your tongue for this long.

Or the repeated trauma has rendered you unable to mount a proper defense.

Now I’m assuming that since your mother is traveling to your home, she is expecting you to play hostess. This could explain the fact that you are always the one supplying the tea cakes. However, one must presume that normal hostess duties should be abandoned in light of this being a very regular occurrence amongst close family members.

The Cantankerous Cake Connoisseur should bring cake to tea!

You can use this opportunity for a bit of revenge. Complain about all the problems with the cake. Comment that it is terribly dry and gulp your tea in a rush to make your point clear. Throwing a few coughs in will also convince your mother that her cake has brought you to the point of death. Make sure you do this with your mouth stuffed full of the delicious goodies.

All the better if a bit of cake goes flying out of your mouth and lands on your mother’s plate.

I would like to warn you that this method of behavior modification will not work on every mother. In fact, I think it works on less than 10% of the mother’s out there. Stay positive though, your mother could be in that small group – you’ll know if that’s the case based on whether or not she throws cake in your face and storms out of the house. If this happens, let her go… you avoid her future complaints and get the cake to yourself!


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