My daughter and I had an interesting debate a few evenings ago. While unpacking her lunch bag I asked (like ya would) ‘Any homework?’ She eyed me suspiciously.
‘I’m not sure what you think you know,” she began in a measured you-are-such-a-dummy-but-I’ll-humour-you-anyway tone, “but while there’s math sheets assigned, they are ‘optional.’” What followed was an interesting debate on whose ‘option’ would prevail; hers to not do the sheets, or mine to git ’er done.
Sugar Plum Dreams
At some point during the evening-long stand off, I noticed the cookie container I’d been diligently trying to keep filled for about three weeks – with sugar plum dreams of sticking at least a few away for Christmas – was once again almost empty. Both of my children – and no doubt a few of their helpful, darling friends – had once again cookie-monstered almost the entire collection of sweets, save for one whole shortbread and a partially eaten gingersnap.
I preheated the oven, pinned my locks, washed the evil off my hands and started in. Before long, the alluring aroma made its way into my daughter’s room and she ventured out. As she made her way to the tray of cooling goodness she passed the math sheets I had left out – thoughtfully at the ready – on the table. “Optional,” she stated simply as she passed by the math and reached for a cookie. I blocked her cookie access with my mom-dom and stated, “Cookies. Also optional.”
She caved. While not all the math got done before I offered up the baked-goods, a dent was put in, so it was somewhat of a win on both ends, I figured, thanks to the almighty allure of a mom-baked cookie.
There was a time, however, when neither love nor money, or the scent of something I was baking could convince anyone to do anything.
We’ve all had kitchen fails, but I’ve had some epic ones. Take my first attempt at baking banana bread. I swear I followed mom’s recipe to a ‘T’. Honest.
Still, when the loaf cooled, it was heavier than any brick I’d ever hefted. Had it been in the bundle that fell on poor Paddy that day, not only would he not make it to work, the poor bugger would be six-feet under. While my visiting sister-in-law and hubby knew I had been baking, neither was around when I took the atrocity out of the oven.
Hoping they would forget, and afraid the enormous weight of the disaster would be felt in the trash – and then later by my easily damaged soul – I tossed the evidence into the woods hoping squirrels or birds would get the winter out of it once rain and snow soaked it enough to fall apart.
Hubby and his sister asked about my baking adventure. I told them I had changed my mind and left it at that. Later, my sister-in-law took our Shepherd-cross to the park for her usual evening romp with her doggie-buddies.
Nar Tooth Mark
When they returned, sis-by-marriage threw something at me. There, at my feet, still fully intact and denting the poor parquet, was my banana loaf.
“I thought you’d want it back,” she teased, before informing us how the discovered loaf had entertained six large-breed dogs for over an hour. They used it as a toy – fighting over it and tossing it about – the entire time. There wasn’t as much as a tooth mark in the darn thing.
So, you can possibly understand how thrilled I am when I see near-empty cookie containers, or how honoured I feel when the aroma of something I’m creating lures children to the table and gets one to attempt ‘optional’ math sheets, because there was a time when the only dent made to any of my baked goods was to the floor.
Pam Pardy Ghent, The Herald’s Managing Editor, can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org