I’ve been baking with the weeBots since Mbot was old enough to hold a spoon. I set both Bots in chairs in the middle of the kitchen, hand them plastic bowls and spoons, and let them take part in the real deal at every opportunity. They cracked eggs, they stirred, they cut out cookies (kind of) and sprinkled sprinkles. I didn’t solicit their participation because I’m Mommy Martha Stewart. I theorized that, while they were helping me, they couldn’t get into trouble. It was a sound theory, like trickle-down economics seemed to be, back before everyone realized the gap between the upper and lower classes was growing exponentially.
One morning last week, we were all mixing together banana oat bran muffins. Half way through, I reached into the fridge for the yogurt.
Twenty seconds later, I turned around. Mbot was standing at the counter, squeezing an upturned bottle of Hershey’s syrup that had only moments before been in the door of the fridge (at Bot level, my mistake) into the bowl. He was not tall enough to see if anything was coming out. (It was. Fast.)
We ate chocolate banana oat bran muffins with our scrambled eggs.
I would include the recipe here, but Mbot was the only one who thought they were any good. Even Gbot left his for dead.
In spite of episodes like this, I have persisted in baking with the Bots. In my life PB (Pre-Bot), baking had always relaxed me, especially baking in the morning. Something about the rhythm of removing fresh ingredients from the refrigerator, measuring flour, melting butter, pouring milk. It can’t be rushed.
In the past six months, since breakfast has become less like Mommy Zumba because the Bots eat (or play with) the same thing, I have been baking more and more: oat bran muffins, popovers, honey wheat pancakes.
But I found that I’d inevitably end up shouting at some point when small fingers ventured too close to the stove top, or wiping away tears because there were only two eggs to break, or burning something because I was employed either as referee or bathroom attendant or janitor or nurse or all of the above.
Then yesterday, while preparing to make waffles (which, in my book, counts as baking, because they involve flour, sugar, liquid, and heat), I narrowly rescued half a dozen eggs from meeting the same fate as the carpet cleaner (see The Tortillas of August), and then had to pull Gbot from the flour bin so we wouldn’t be late for library story time.
That’s when it hit me: I did not have to bake anything for breakfast. I could pour cereal into two bowls. I could cut a banana on top and add milk. I could slice an orange. I could dole out yogurt. Then I could assemble our picnic lunch for after story time while that was being either consumed or played with or thrown on the floor piece by piece.
What was keeping me from doing this? Did I think that if I didn’t slave over a hot stove before 9 a.m., I was a failure as a mother? No. Did I like knowing exactly what the weeBots were eating? Yes. But there was something more.
I wanted to bake.
I realized I was still acting under the deeply ingrained belief that producing something warm and moist and delicious would would zen me out, even though just reading a recipe means turning my eyes away from four industrious hands–that’s twenty industrious fingers–removing a diaper or conducting a discoverment with the dog’s water dish (see Discoverments One Through Three) or turning a Magnadoodle into a weapon.
Reluctantly, I put the eggs away and pulled out Barbara’s Organic Cornflakes.
We made it to story time.
Do you have a habit that you cling to, in vain?