Monday, July 25, 2011

Baking with kids

 My Meme made it look so easy. She used to gather 2 or 3 of us at a time for a festival of Christmas cookie baking and decorating. I'm sure her kitchen was covered in cookie dough and unmentionable frosting colors - but I don't remember any of that. All I remember is her loving smile as she encouraged us to make beautiful cookies in literally every shade imaginable. Cookie baking day is one of my favorite memories growing up, such a beloved tradition that we prodded Meme along well into her 70s hosting cookie day.

Then the time came to make cookies of my own. Of course, I had to call her up to get recipes and hints - nobody's cut-outs tasted quite like hers. The thing of it is, she really didn't love cooking and baking - but she loved being with us. And so I went a few years baking cookies on my own and with my sisters, trying to recreate those beloved days. The cookies were good, the memories cherished, but it wasn't the same. Meme's cookie day was just something unique!

These days, I can't call her on the phone anymore to ask for the perfect recipe or to wonder out loud to her how she didn't throw in the towel when cookie dough was clearly caked over everything. She can't answer the phone, so I call her in my head. I often find myself stopping and saying a silent prayer to my beloved grandmother to give me the strength and patience to bake with kids. I guarantee she watches us during the moments getting a pretty good chuckle at my attempts!

I tried to recreate cookie day past Christmas with my girls. With the over-zealousness that often decorates my plans and ideas, I sat Molly and Kennedy at the kitchen table. I let them help me roll the dough flat and cut out the cookies, but I only had 2 hands, and while I worked with one girl the other (usually Kennedy) was throwing dough about the room or painting themselves with flower. The 15 minute cookie cutting session resulted in a half-hour clean up, the 2 of them soaking in a bubble bath while I rushed around to clean up everything they could possibly get into again from the table, the chairs, the wall, the floor, my clothes...etc... I prayed pretty hard to Meme, and didn't lose my cool - but vowed to do it different next time. Those cookies never saw frosting from the kiddos!

It shouldn't be a wonder that I've baked during nap time from that point forward! Until today that is. Molly and I had decided to turn our extra blueberries into a blueberry cake. She was so excited to help. And so I said a little prayer to Meme, pulled out the Kitchen-Aid and got started. I divided up the jobs on the spot. Molly could handle "put this in the garbage", "get the  milk (nearly empty) from the fridge", or "help me scoop and pour 3 times". Kennedy was instrumental in moving the Vanilla extract from one spot to another and in scooping some sugar. The girls were happy because they were included and I was happy because clean-up only took 5 minutes.

What I learned from Meme was patience and just enjoying being with the kids. What I learned from my kids was to keep the tasks within their reach, and not to expect them to suddenly be the neatest kids ever when messiness is right at their fingertips. When I made things tangible and well within their grasp - the results were so much more calming! The Blueberry cake is now in the oven, we'll see how it turns out, but it doesn't really matter. The kids are smiling, they had fun and of course they are clambering for some dinner!

Cookie Baking - Christmas 2010   

1 comment:

  1. Amanda-

    Thankyou for sharing this was touching and ofcourse hilarious...keep em coming!