“Dad, can we make St. Patrick’s Day cookies?” My daughter, Jessie, made this simple request on a day off from school. How could I say no, especially since I know how much she enjoys baking?
I mentally tasted the delicious sugar cookies topped with green icing and sprinkles that Jessie envisioned. Less appetizing was the thought of the clean-up. It seems like Jessie always asks to bake just after I’ve vacuumed the floors. I knew Jessie would have fun and the cookies would taste great. I also knew that by the time the last hot cookie emerged from the oven my kitchen would look like a tornado hit. Although Jessie loves to create, experiment, and taste, she doesn’t love to clean up the resulting mess.
If I said yes to Jessie’s request, I had two choices for my role in the project. I could assist (Jessie likes to be the head chef) and enjoy quality daddy-daughter time with her. Alternatively, I could stay out of the way, knowing that I probably wouldn’t have the patience to stay gone long enough for her to finish the clean-up.
Jessie had already pulled up a sugar cookie recipe on her phone. It was too late to introduce a different plan. I helped Jessie collect the required ingredients from the pantry and the cabinet above the stove. Surprisingly, we had them all, even a full can of baking powder, so I couldn’t use missing ingredients as an excuse to say, “Oh, we can’t do this project today.”
Since I had a cold and a headache, I went with Option 2 and said, “Jessie, I’m going to take a nap and let you start.”
While I nap, let’s get Jessie’s opinion on a messy kitchen.
Jessie, Age 12
I like to cook and bake. Dad cooks while I am in school, at dance, or doing homework. I lead a busy life. Sometimes though, I get the rare chance to mess around in the kitchen and can’t wait to make something good. The problem with that is … I leave a mess. I am tired from cooking or baking, and why not? I have gone to all the work to make something to share. If Dad gets to eat it, he could help me clean up in the kitchen. I have been doing better lately though. I try to put away my ingredients, so they leave the counter free and easy to wipe down when I am done. Now, let’s get back to Dad to get his view on my messy kitchen.
When I awoke from my nap, my headache felt better, but my kitchen was now in pain. On the positive side, no egg slime was running down the side of the cabinets, a small improvement over prior baking days. Jessie had put some ingredients away and even washed a few dishes. However, my celebration was short-lived as I observed what looked like a food fight had taken place with flour used as the weapon. My kitchen won the battle with egg slime but lost the war with flour. The coffee maker and oven were casualties. The coffee maker’s “On” button had been suffocated. A flour bomb had exploded near the front of the stove, covering the floor, oven door, and two of the stove burners with flour shrapnel. Flour lay in piles on each side of the kitchen sink and the counter space to the left of the oven.
During the next couple of hours, Jessie, my wife, and I rolled out the dough, baked cookies, and decorated them. When we were done, cleanup took a long time, but we had fun and enjoyed the cookies, which were as delicious in real life as they had been in my imagination.
Again in the future Jessie will ask, “Dad, can we make cookies?” And again, of course, I’ll say “Yes.” However, I’ll pass on the nap, even if I have a headache. It’s helpful to have a lookout on duty for surprise flour attacks.
But whether my kitchen is spotless or covered in flour, sugar, and egg slime, one thing is certain ’tween daughter and dad, I love my girl and my girl loves me.
Until next month, remember to cherish the moments.