Good Looking Cookies

The other day, Elder decided to bake cookies.

Sitting at the island, supposedly reading my Kindle, I decided to watch — unobtrusively. Except that plan went awry fairly quickly. To be specific, it went awry the moment I realized he was carelessly scooping spoonful after spoonful of flour then dumping the heaping mounds into the measuring cup that sit in position several inches away.

Eyeing the flour that wasn’t making it the full distance to the cup, I said, “It would be easier just to stick the cup into the flour.”

“This is how she showed us to do it,” he responded, intent on the rhythm of his scoop, dump, scoop, dump.

She is the teacher of the cooking class at the middle school. Because she is apparently an authority, sanctioned by a degree, Elder has little interest in contradicting advice from his mother, who, while he is at the age of seventeen, isn’t an authority in anything. I expect I’ll get smarter as he gets older. We’ll see.

“Well, apparently, she isn’t the one buying the flour,” I responded snottily. I get snotty sometimes. Maybe a lot of times. I expect I’ll get less snotty as he gets older. We’ll see.

“I’ve got this under control,” Elder assured me. “Don’t you worry.”

And that’s when I noticed he had lined the counter with tinfoil. And, sure enough, within a few minutes, having reached the stated amount of flour, he carefully lifted the strip of tinfoil, shaking all the spilled flour back into the original container. Then he wadded up the tinfoil, threw it away, and tore another strip.

For the sugar.

“Well, then she’s not the one buying tinfoil,” I said, still snotty.

His father walked by, glanced at Elder transporting sugar from the container to the measuring cup by messy spoonfuls, and said, “I’m starting to understand how you get flour into closed cabinets when you cook.”

Which has always been a mystery to us. But Elder has always been a little distracted. Flour in cabinets he never opened while baking is one of the smaller mysteries.

But then I realized this seventeen-year-old young man was baking cookies. And I shouldn’t give him grief. I should enjoy him. So, I sealed my mouth shut. Until he banged a wooden spoon against the measuring cup to insure he had loosened every grain of sugar. That’s when I giggled.

And then he added sticks of butter to the bowl like bombs from an air raid.

“Not everything I do is funny, Mom,” he told me, peering at the recipe.

“No, I know, I’m sorry.” And I tried to be good. Except he turned on the mixer and I was suddenly ducking my head and throwing up my arms in the sudden shower of butter and sugar, giggling even harder. “I think, maybe, I should go upstairs.” Gathering my Kindle and phone, I beat a hasty retreat to my bedroom.

About twenty minutes later, dutifully restrained, I ventured back into the kitchen for a drink, finding Elder at the island concentrating on dropping just the right amount of dough on the baking sheet. Beside him, cooling on paper towels, was the first batch of chocolate chip cookies.

Completely satisfied with himself, Elder announced, “Those are some good looking cookies.”

“Yes,” I agreed around my grin. “They surely are. Those are some good looking cookies.”

Standing at over six feet tall, muscles defined after three years of weights as well as baseball, basketball, and football, hair long, curly, and messy, because he has refused to cut it in six months in accordance with a contest between him and a friend — same with the scraggly beard — he is emerging into an adult. One that I respect and admire.

But it’s the little boy moments that keep him sweet.

And those surely were some good looking cookies.

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All’s Fair

I’m a day late on posting, but I have a nasty cold with all the necessary requirements — the oversized head, the leaking eyes and nose, the narrowing throat passage, the twice-as-heavy-as-normal limbs. And, yes, that is a blatant attempt at sympathy.

Did I manage to squeeze any out of you?

Because I haven’t got managed to earn any at home, where, in response to my constant sniffs and unintelligible, nasal mutterings, I get, “That’s too bad, Mom, what’s for dinner?”

But sharing my little tale of woe is also my explanation for why you are getting an old story today from another time I was sick way back in 2000…

As other parents, we have tried to teach Elder that the deciding factor on whether or not to engage in certain behavior is “being nice.” And Elder has decided that we have apparently not learned the lesson we are attempting to teach. So, when we make a parental decision for Elder with which he does not agree, he informs us, “It’s not nice to” do whatever we have said.

This morning, he did not want to leave the house, so I heard a litany of “It’s not nice to not wake me up early” and “It’s not nice to make me wear pants” and so forth and so on.

On a side note, this was my first day back to work after being home for three days with a stomach virus. And I did my wifely duty and shared my germs with my husband, so he spent last night on the sofa. Because of that and because the boys and I were in the bedroom for most of the morning, he missed the majority of Elder’s little bits of wisdom.

However, he managed to catch the last few segments of “It’s not nice…” and witnessed the snap of my patience when I spun on my heel and interrupted Elder in mid-sentence to claim, “Elder, I am tired of your lectures. Get your clothes on.”

My poor sick husband lay on the sofa, on his side and facing the back cushions, fortunately for him because I could not see his face. But I did notice his shoulders shaking with silent laughter – too sick to help but healthy enough to have a sense of humor.

I suppose that’s fair, as I was healthy enough to help but too sick to have a sense of humor.

But, if I had had a sufficiently light but satisfactorily heavy object handy, I would have hit him squarely in the back with it.

And I would have thought that perfectly fair, too.

Love You More

Younger spent some of his Christmas break with his dad at the farm, chasing cattle in the freezing cold air. Apparently, for some people — I would venture to guess it is the people who don’t have to chase cattle every day — such activity is fun.

One day, on the way home, the two stopped by my work — a community computer center — to share their plans for the rest of the afternoon. And, although I recognized Younger’s chattering was somewhat subdued, I really paid little attention until I went to give him a hug.

His extended palm stopped me before I could get my arms wrapped around his shoulders.

Confused, I pulled back slightly to frown at him. Then I tried again. And this time met two extended hands, both waving frantically at me.

That’s when I remembered the teenage girls seated behind me at a few of the computers. So, I stuck out my hand for a handshake.

Only to have him rattle his head and skedaddle through the door and to the truck. And his father followed him, laughing all the way.

I comb my hair and brush all my teeth, just about every day. I really don’t know when I became this embarrassment.

But, later, at home, with no one watching, he gave me a hug. “I love you, Mom.”

“I love you, too,” I murmured, accepting the embrace without incriminations.

But then he said, playing an old game from his early childhood, “I love you more.”

“No, you don’t,” I gasped with pure indignation. “I will hug you in public. You will not hug me in public. Clearly, we can see who loves whom the most.”

“But, Mom,” he objected. “They wouldn’t make fun of you for hugging your son. But they will make fun of me for hugging my mom. So, it’s not the same thing, see? And it clearly doesn’t indicate that you love me more, because I love you more.”

And he skedaddled again.

Well, I’ll admit he does have the right idea on one thing…

If you’re gonna insult your poor, honorable, dutiful, tireless, loving momma…

Run.

Them’s Fightin’ Words

The other day, Elder and I were in the parking lot of the grocery store when he suddenly demanded that I drive by a “slug bug.” For some reason, he found the painted racing flames highly amusing. And snapping a picture with his phone, he announced, “I’m gonna send that picture to Alex with a comment. It’ll make him mad.”

Confused as to the humor of a Volkswagen’s color scheme, but completely lost as to its trigger for anger in his friend, I objected to the one part I clearly understood. “Why send Alex something that will make him mad?” With a shrug of my shoulders, I sighed, “Boys are mean.”

“Alex won’t really be mad. Guys always say mean things and we don’t care. Girls say nice things and they don’t mean them.”

My mouth fell open. “If I say nice things, I mean them, Elder.”

“Women just need to stop taking everything so serious. If women ruled the world, we’d be at war with half the world and not talking to the other half.”

I don’t know about the world…

But in our little truck…

We had a woman at war.

I Like This Part

A few months ago, when he realized I was sacrificing watching Younger play football in order to help his football team, Elder walked over to me and, wrapping an arm around my shoulders and bending to touch his head to mine, murmured, “Thanks, Mom.”

And, in case you missed what I just said, he had to bend to touch his head to mine.

Which just isn’t right.

At all.

But I guess I knew the moment was coming, even thirteen years ago when I wrote…

The other night, as soon as I walked into the daycare, Elder began to communicate with me in this grating, high-pitched voice that can, for whatever unknown reason, only be used to complain, both specifically and generally. Most mothers recognize this as the “whine.” So, struggling for patience, I endured twenty minutes or so, until, standing in the kitchen at the stove with him at my side, his little head tilted back, so that the “whine” can travel the distance between his mouth and my ears just a little better, I recognized my patience was at a rather abrupt end. So, I turned to him and calmly announced, “Elder, if I have to listen to even just one more whine, I will most likely lose my patience.”

He shut his mouth, looked at me, then said, “Okay.” And he left me alone in the kitchen tending dinner.

So, things had improved slightly but only slightly. Elder still didn’t want to eat his pizza because it had cheese. Never mind that every pizza he has ever eaten has cheese. If Mommy actually makes the pizza rather than pulling it out of a box – either frozen or carryout – he doesn’t want it. Then he didn’t want his bath. Or to brush his teeth. Or Younger to look at him cross-eyed. So on and so forth.

But then it was bedtime and I lay between my two boys. Elder lay his head on my shoulder, tucked one knee on my hip, and sprawled his arm across my chest. Then he whispered, “I like this part, Mommy.”

And I whispered back, “I do, too, Elder.”

Amazing how even my worst day cannot be so bad when I can spend even a few minutes snuggled between Elder and Younger. So I lay there thankful for my blessings, loving the feel of them snuggled against me, loving the sound of their soft, even breathing, loving the sight of the peaceful faces of sleeping innocents, loving them.

But even those precious minutes are bittersweet. Because I know that too soon I will be limited to those motherly touches that are surreptitiously given and warily accepted. You know the ones I mean — where I try to smooth unruly hair and they duck away from and beyond my reach or where I lock my arm around their neck in the accepted disguise of a hug or where, in a very public place, I spit on my napkin and wipe spaghetti sauce off their chin while they perish in mortification.

And part of me will laugh and part of me will cry and all of me will remember the little boy snuggled so tight to my side whispering in my ear, “I like this part, Mommy.”

And all of me will silently whisper back, “So did I, Elder. So did I.”