“What happened?” my wife said. She was looking at the kitchen table. The kitchen table that was overflowing with frosted sugar cookies. They came in all shapes and sizes and were decorated with a multitude of colors applied in creative designs.
“We made cookies.”
“I can see you made cookies!” Her eyes drifted to the walls. Fragments of cookie dough spattered the surface like shrapnel. A long, thin strand of dough hung like a noodle off the slowly rotating fan blade. I looked at my two girls, their beautiful, cherubic faces were covered in flour. Glancing down at my hands, I could see they were covered in flour as well. “Why did you make so many?”
“Let me start from the beginning,” I said. I made eye contact with the girls. They looked at me innocently. They were giving me a you better handle this daddy look. I took a deep breath. “Well, we needed something to do so Sofia suggested that we should make cookies.”
“You said we could mom,” Sofia added. My wife just looked at her and nodded.
“So I dug up a recipe and we went to the store for ingredients.”
“You made them from scratch?” She was incredulous, as if in this day and age such a concept was beyond belief. “Why didn’t you just use the box of cookie mix that I left for you guys?” She pointed at a box that sat next to the sink. I picked it up. All you had to do was add water. That would have been easier.
“Oh, that’s probably what Sofia meant,” I set the box down and surreptitiously dusted off some of the flour that had come to settle on the top.
“Well, as I was saying, I went into the grocery store with my recipe. I had to buy flour, eggs, baking powder, frosting, sprinkles…”
“I can see you bought sprinkles.”
I looked around. There were sprinkles everywhere.
She sighed. “I can’t believe you made cookies from scratch.” My wife seemed to think I’d gone insane. I just nodded slowly.
“Yeah, we spent like forty bucks. Then we came home and started mixing.”
“We helped mom!” Ariel said.
“Yeah, they sure did.” I paused to collect myself. “You see, that’s when things started to get out of control. When they want to help, they sure do help.”
I reflected on the intense focus and industriousness of children who are committed to a task. They come trotting up and somehow manage to get their hands and toes and heads everywhere. They show surprising strength and agility as they climb up onto tables and dangle from light fixtures. Can they fit their whole head in the mixing bowl? Yes they can! Two seconds later they’re completely covered in flower and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
None of this is done with any malice. Instead, it’s all driven by cute curiosity and a sincere desire to be helpful.
“We mixed the dough and I had Sofia flatten it out,” I said.
“But we don’t have a rolling pin.”
“We used a plastic mat.”
“I stomped on it mommy!” Sofia yelled. My wife blanched.
“Yeah, she climbed up on the table and stomped on it. I think one time she sat on it.” Sofia nodded in excited agreement.
“How very enterprising,” my wife said.
“Then I cut out the cookie shapes!” Ariel said.
“We both did!”
“Yes, we both did!”
I cleared my throat and trembled a little bit, a flashback of the kids crawling all over the table, the walls, and the oven came to me. I think I dove to stop them from falling about ninety-six times. They never lost their nerve though. No, they just became more emboldened as I crumbled into dust.
“Once the first batch came out of the oven, it became even more complicated.”
“The pan is hot mommy!”
“There would be a brief reprieve with the cookies in the oven, but the second we pulled them out, all the excitement would begin again. First I had to keep them from burning themselves, then we had to load up the new tray, then I had to keep them out of the oven as I put the tray in.”
“That’s when we started decorating!”
“Yes, between loads they’d start to decorate. This went on and on and on. It was like the dough was eternal. The whole thing started to accelerate! It was chaos! The girls started singing. It all reminded me of the penguin scene from ‘Mary Poppins.’”
My wife looked around again and shook her head. “I still can’t believe you made cookies from scratch.”
“Here mommy, try this one, I decorated it!” Sofia said.
“Try this one, I decorated this one,” Ariel said.
My wife took the proffered cookies, and took a bite out of each. She gave us all an approving nod. “They’re good.”
“Hooray!” the girls cheered, and then they ran off to perform some other task with their typical delightful intensity.
At that point, my wife seemed to recognize I was traumatized and gave me a hug. “Good job daddy, now we have a lifetime supply of sugar cookies.”
I picked one up off the table, it had a mound of frosting the size of half a baseball. I took a bite.
“Hey!” I said, somewhat surprised, “when you make them from scratch, they’re way better!”
“Well, you can be in charge of cookies from now on.”
My eyes widened at the thought, but then I relaxed. One glance at the table overflowing with cookies made me realized we wouldn’t have to bake anymore for a long, long time.
“I can’t believe you made them from scratch,” my wife said, then she laughed.
Previously published on medium
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Photo credit: Walter Rhein