Saturday morning Emma said, “Make cake?”
“What kind of cake, Em?” I asked.
“Make strawberry cake?” Emma said in her usual questioning way.
It’s always interesting to me that Emma will make a statement, but will say it in a way that turns it into a question. For instance when I ask her – do you want to wear this? She will answer, “No?” which means she doesn’t want to wear it, but is asking if it’s okay not to. Usually my answer is – okay – or – how about this? To which she’ll then say – Okay or sometimes she’ll offer an alternative of her own, such as, “Wear this one?” It’s a clever shorthand using much fewer words, but still gets the meaning across. When we were in Panama having her third stem cell treatment done, another autistic girl a few years older than Emma did the same thing. I remember after the procedure she kept saying, “Have chicken sandwich?” She used the same upward lilt to the ending of the sentence that Emma incorporates.
“You want to make strawberry cake?” I asked Emma, somewhat incredulous as this was something she’s never requested before.
“Yeah!” Emma said jumping up and down.
“Okay. How about we make a cake tonight?”
“Strawberry cake later,” Emma said.
“Yes, this afternoon. Okay?”
“Okay,” Emma said.
Later that afternoon, Emma came over to me, “Mommy! I want to make strawberry cake, please!”
“Okay, Em. What should we do first?” I asked as Nic ran over to join us.
“Get a bowl and get out strawberries,” Emma said, taking the container of strawberries from the refrigerator.
“Now what should we do?” I asked.
“Mush them,” Emma said.
“Okay, here,” I handed her a potato masher.
Emma waited as I removed the stems from the strawberries and put them in the bowl. Then she began mashing them. After a little while, (about a minute) she took the milk out and said, “Pour in to mush.”
“Yeah, okay,” I said watching her.
“Mom, are you sure this is a good idea?” Nic asked.
I shrugged. “I don’t know. Let’s see what happens.”
“But what about the cake?” Nic asked.
“We can make a batter and add the strawberries to it,” I said, wondering exactly how this was going to work out. “Hey Nic, why don’t you turn the oven on.”
As Nic turned on the oven, Emma continued to mash the strawberries in with the milk.
“Em, I have an idea, let’s use this,” I offered her a hand blender. “This will mash the strawberries better,” I added, plugging it in.
“Okay. Have to mush, mush, mush,” Emma sang as she worked. “Mush the strawberries, mush, mush, mush, mush the strawberries.”
Meanwhile I had Nic add a little bit of sugar, mix the flour and baking powder, then cream the butter, sugar and eggs in the electric mixer.
“Hey Em, are you ready to add the strawberries to our cake batter?”
“Yes!” Emma said, pouring the now blended strawberries into the batter. “Smell!” she said, lowering her head so that it was close to the batter.
“Does it smell good?” I asked.
“Yum!” Emma said.
While the cake was in the oven, Nic and Emma helped me make buttercream frosting. “Em, should we put strawberries into the frosting?”
“No!” Emma laughed as though this was the most ridiculous question she’d ever heard. I looked at Nic.
He shrugged and said, “No strawberries in the frosting, Mom.”
“Okay it’s unanimous.”
When the cake was finished we pulled it out of the oven, let it cool and then Nic and Emma “helped” me frost it, which meant licking the spatula, licking the beater, licking the bowl. When it was finished I said, “Who wants to have some strawberry cake?”
“I do!” Nic yelled.
“Hey Em, want to taste it?”
“Naaah!” Emma said running to the other side of the room.
“Hey Em. Come on! It’s your strawberry cake. Don’t you want to try it?”
“Okay, just a taste,” Emma said coming over to sniff the cake.
“Mom!” Nic yelled. “This is the best cake ever!”
Meanwhile Emma poked at the cake with her fork then tasted the frosting and walked away. Nic looked over, then rolled his eyes at me. “Whatever Mom. It’s a great cake,” he said, taking another mouthful.
What remains of Emma’s Strawberry Cake
For more on Emma and autism go to: EmmasHopeBook