Follow the Directions

The other day, a student brought cookies to class — red velvet chocolate chip cookies. And I shared the cookies with Younger and my husband.

After the cookies received rave reviews, I asked for the recipe, which included a cake mix. I immediately bought a cake mix. I did not, however, immediately make the cookies.

Apparently, to the frustration of my husband.

Because . . .

The other night, he climbed the stairs to our bedroom to ask, “I just follow the recipe for the cake, right?”

“To make cookies?”

He nodded. “Right.”

I blinked at him, my oldest engineer, and explained, “Uhhh, no, if you follow the recipe for cake, you will make . . . well, cake.”

So, he made a quick trip to the newly built local dollar store for icing.

For his red velvet cupcakes.

I think it was the only time in his life he actually followed directions.

The wrong directions.

But, you know, directions, nonetheless.


The Terrorizing of the Brownie

Since Younger hasn’t provided the necessary entertainment, I thought I would share an old story from 2001. And for the record, we never did see the Brownie or her cookies again. . .

The other day, a Girl Scout knocked on our door, delivering our cookies. So, I asked her to step inside for a moment while I retrieved my checkbook. While my back was turned, Elder proceeded to terrorize the Brownie.

“I have two Marios,” he announced. “One for my Gameboy and one for my Nintendo – my gray Nintendo. It’s in my bedroom. Do you have a Mario? Do you want to play my Mario? See if you push this button you can make him jump. I’m under the ground. My Daddy can kill the things with the spikes. But there’s fire too and the fire jumps and goes whoosh…”

“Elder,” I tried to intervene. “She’s not here about your games.”

“Then why’s she here?”

“She brought us some cookies.”

“Why’d’ya bring us cookies? See my Gameboy is yellow. And the game goes back here. I have a Pokemon game, too. It’s over there. Somewhere. What’s your name?”

By this time, I had rounded the sofa again, checkbook in hand, only to find the girl plastered to our door in the classic pose of a B movie heroine. Somewhat amused and a little horrified, I offered her a reassuring smile, before concentrating on writing the check.

“Kristan,” she whispered, answering Elder’s question.

“My name’s Elder. How many are you? How many are you?”

“Nine,” she whispered.

“I’m four,” Elder told her then pointed to Younger, who was also crowding into our small foyer. “And he’s one.”

“Here you go.” Leaning over the boys, I gave her the check. “Thanks.”

Inching her way across the door, she tugged on the knob then slid through the tiny opening into the night. Alone, his captive audience having escaped, Elder turned to me and asked, “Is she coming back sometime to play?”

“I doubt it, Elder.”

Actually, I imagine Kristan, the Brownie, who is nine years old, will most likely be giving our house a very wide berth at all points in the future.



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.


A month or so ago, I bought a bag of chocolate chips, just in case I or, more likely, Elder had a sudden whim to bake some cookies. Then the other day, when I opened my refrigerator door, I found the bag on the shelf, opened and half-eaten.

Apparently, Elder had a whim, but it didn’t require any baking.

Then last week I opened the refrigerator door to find the bag completely empty and discarded carelessly on the shelf rather than in the trash can positioned only two steps away.

“Well,” Elder drawled in response to my small burst of frustration, “at least I didn’t eat the whole bag in a day or two. It took me about three weeks to eat them all.”

Apparently, it’s all in the perspective.

His is from the one who got to eat the whole bag of chocolate chips.

Mine is from the one who had to take out the trash.

Maybe we all would do better with our own stash of indulgence.