For a few years during our empty nest, I ignored my cake and cookie recipes, hoping to reduce calories and save time. When we became grandparents, I hauled some out again.
Our four grandbeans live on the next block now. My sweetest moments in the kitchen are shared with one or more little people wearing big aprons, wide smiles, and standing on chairs at my side.
I should have remembered this from when my own children were tiny, but baking with mini-minors takes time — double or triple any printed “start to finish” time. It also doubles the mess. Some days it means shifting the entire kitchen around.
It may mean tears too. One day my tiny grandson, before I could stop him, popped an entire spoonful of cinnamon in his mouth. I cleaned out as much as I could before he swallowed it, then rocked his sobbing little self to sleep. Held him a long time, bawling myself at what COULD have happened.
As I’ve commented here before, buying one’s flab and waist rolls ready-to-insert is infinitely faster and easier to than it is to put them together yourself.
Nevertheless, the grandbeans and I bake. Just this morning the youngest (not quite two) and I made a gluten free cake. Like her mother, this little ladybean has celiac disease and can’t eat anything containing gluten. We made a royal mess. Having not yet tasted the cake, I’m not sure how well we did. It looks sort of flat in the middle.
While baking monster cookies with another grandchild one day, I doubled the recipe, and mistakenly used the same sized pan. Living up to its name, the dough rose and began taking over the oven. Nana’s mistake produced more than a mess — the giggles have outlived the monsters we salvaged by scooping the entire half-baked goopy mess into two pans.
Every time I help little fingers crack open an egg or measure a teaspoon of baking soda, I thank God for the privilege many other grandparents wish they had. And I pray that in time they’ll connect the sweetness of baking with the fragrance of the faith I talk and write about.
Why? Because it makes no sense to talk with little people about faith, if we’re not willing to spend time with them. No sense to speak of love, unless we’re willing to share our sugar — whatever that means for each of us.
Some grandparents with nearby grandchildren flee south for several months a year. Some days I understand that. But most days, I’m achingly grateful for this sweet and intimate mess of close relationship. It can’t last forever. When they’re grown, and they don’t need a chair to reach the counter anymore, I won’t have to say, “If only….”
Got someone in your life who needs to know the meaning of faith? Show them a little sugar.