Seriously. I am pretty sure that whoever thought up gingerbread house kits was dabbling in the evil side of things a bit. Having never made one before, they always sounded fun. Lots of edible things that you use to build something colorful and fun. Totally awesome, right?
So, I had bought a kit to make with Liam, and I finally got around to having the time to sit with him and do it (yeah yeah, I know, it's after Christmas). It was a bit later than I wanted it to be, but I figured we wouldn't try to use up all the candy, so we should be able to do it quickly (ha haa haaaaa). I got the base set up, and pulled out the pieces of the kit, all the while Liam asking if he can eat the house yet. I open the candy bags and dump them into little bowls, warning him to not eat them just yet. I put the pieces of gingerbread to the side. I look for the tube of icing...and instead find only a bag of powdery sugar. A bag that tells me I have to mix up the icing. What?! I have to mix it up? I don't DO kitchen stuff. I have rarely used a mixer in my life. But here it is, telling me to use one, and that I have to get the icing the right consistency. A sure way to set me up for failure. I balk and complain about it for about 5 minutes, all the while Liam asking me repeatedly if he can eat the candy yet.
I finally suck it up and drag out the mixer and a bowl and proceed to mix up the icing. Well, I proceed to blanket the kitchen in a cloud of confectioners sugar, and little blobby balls of sugar/water mixture. It takes way more water than they say it should. Eventually it turns from powdery pearls into sludge that resembles toothpaste. Finally ready to assemble. I let Liam have one little piece of candy in celebration.
I proceed to spoon some of the icing into the decorator bag they provided, and then turn to the directions to see how to put the tip on it. The directions tell me to put the tip into the bag first, then cut a hole, THEN put the icing into the bag...um.....crap. I stand there for a minute, trying to breath deeply and calmly. And then proceed to stick the decorator tip down into the icing with my hands. I get halfway before it's just too much for me to bear. I abandon the tip and clean the sticky slather off my hands and find some pointy skewer-like object to jam the tip down the rest of the way. Then cut a hole in the tip of the decorator bag itself. It seems to work. But apparently you have to twist the top of the bag super tight...no, not even just super tight, but fold it over, then twist it again, then fold it a few more times, and then twisty-tie it shut, and then maybe tape it, before folding it one more time...because otherwise I don't see how you can prevent the sugary sticky mess of mortar from somehow making it's way out of the bag from the back end, all over your hands and shirt and tablecloth and chairs and floor and 3-year-old-son.
I manage to glue two walls onto the base, but they won't really stay upright, even when holding them together for the full 3 minutes they mention. So I use soup cans to kind of shore them up, and truck onwards with the rest of the walls. Liam is still asking about eating more candy, so I relent and let him have another piece. I then get ready to put the roof on, and wonder if it will hold. I check the directions. They tell me to wait at least an hour before trying to put the roof on. Gritting my teeth, I read on further in case there is anything else I should have read. I get to the part that says that after putting the roof on, I should wait 2-3 hours before attempting to decorate the house.
After my head finishes exploding and I call my mom to complain about the evil ways of gingerbread houses, I decide I don't really care what the darn instructions say. I glue the roof on (after struggling with getting the icing flowing again, preferably out the tip and not out the back end all over my hand). I use more cans to shore up the roof, sealing in two of the soup cans inside (will have to remember those later). I give it a few minutes to set, letting Liam eat a few more pieces of candy in celebration (and so there isn't as much to put on the darn house).
Finally, I let Liam get down to business. I pipe...hah, pipe...more like blop...okay...blop on icing here and there, and he presses candy into them. They slide pathetically downward. He starts to learn to hold them in place, first counting to three, and then upping the ante by going up to six, and then ten...and then just doing random numbers, ending with 20 most of the time. I think he made up a few numbers in there. Most of them stuck, but a few still refused to disobey gravity and pooled at the bottom of his walls. Still, at the end, he still had something that resembled a house. He wasn't hopped up on too much sugar (shhh, I can delude myself), and neither of us were stuck to the furniture (yet).
He had fun. I, on the other hand, will never touch a gingerbread house again.