About an hour before I need to get ready for work, I decide to make cookies. Without much fanfare, I start to line up the ingredients in a neat little row (in the correct order they will be used) on the counter. Poof! —out of nowhere materializes the same child who typically must be called eight times to put his shoes on when we need to leave.
“Are you making cookies?! I’ll help you!” he offers with the breathless enthusiasm normally reserved for million-dollar lottery winners.
“Uh, that’s okay, Short, I don’t have a lot of time, I’ll just make them really fast here. You go back and play with your brother’s Lego’s some more.”
He ignores me and grabs a step-stool so he can “help” me stir.
“Short, really, I’ve got it. If Mommy can make them fast, you can have THREE cookies to eat after they bake.”
“NO!” he insists, “I break the eggs!” He looks up at me with big blue eyes and a huge grin. The thought that immediately pops to mind is why won't you ever smile in photos?
He reaches for the whisk.
I know what you’re thinking: Wow, that MOV sure is a mean mom. What's her problem?
I’ll tell you what my problem is. The last time we indulged in this “family togetherness cooking fantasy”, the following occurred (not necessarily in this order):
- half the flour ended up on me (too lazy to wear an apron, natch)
- several pieces of egg shell added to the overall crunchiness of the cookies
- the bottle of vanilla was broken on the floor (why do we not buy plastic bottles for everything?)
- ONE WHOLE BAG OF CHOCOLATE CHIPS WAS DEPOSITED ON THE FLOOR (why can't we spill things on the counter, or even the sink? what is it about the floor? is there some sort of secret magnetic force-field there beyond basic gravity that I am unaware of?) and
- it was a miracle that our family (mercifully the only guinea pigs subjected to this cruel baking experiment) didn't get sick eating these “cookies” because the entire bowl of batter was sneezed on by my preschooler
I love my sons, and I truly want them to learn about cooking and baking, but it is just really really hard for me to “let the mess happen”. I am beyond a Typical Virgo (you know, the ones who just iron their socks?). I have graduated into the realm of Hyper-Virgo: if I had my way, my house would look ready for a real estate open house 24/7. I have been known to yell at The Husband for “sleeping too messy” (would it kill him to not kick all the covers off every single night?). I have actually folded up the newspapers so they line up the same way. For the recycling bin.
So you can see how difficult it is for me to reconcile the twin desires competing for dominance: keep kitchen looking half-way decent (and my sanity intact) OR teach children valuable life skills.
“Wait a second ... ” I hear myself say, “let me help you put on your Star Wars apron.”
(“Messy Official Volunteer”)