Wiggly messes and tasty memories

All the students in the room wore full aprons to protect their clothing. They needed to because they were a group of wiggly 2 and 3-year-olds in a cooking class. My daughter scheduled the class at the local community center for my All the students in the room wore full aprons to protect their clothing. They needed to because they were a group of wiggly 2 and 3-year-olds in a cooking class. My daughter scheduled the class at the local community center for my granddaughter and me when she knew I was coming to help her during the arrival of their second...granddaughter and me when she knew I was coming to help her during the arrival of their second child.

“You’ll love it, mom,” she said. “You and Clare can have some fun together and make cookies.”

Eight little squirming bodies stood on chairs around two long tables with seven moms and a couple of grandmothers holding onto them as though they were wild horses waiting to take off for a race.

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I was a little excited, but the grandmother next to us didn’t look too excited. The teacher started the class by announcing to the children they were going to make ginger cookies.

Their cooking tools–which consisted of a small bowl, a measuring cup, a little measuring spoon, and a long wooden spoon for stirring–were placed in front of them. After the teacher dropped a ball of shortening in their bowls, she explained how white and sticky it was, and told the kids not to touch it–which translated into toddler language means, “This will feel great between your curious little fingers, so dig in.”

Our job, as assistants, was to hold the bowl until she was setting the next ingredient before them, which seemed like a long time. It was time to dip their cup into the sugar bowl and measure out the sugar.

When I released Clare’s hands, she grabbed the cup and dug deep into the sugar bowl. As she lifted the cup, sugar went on the table, on her apron, in my face, and a few granules went into the bowl.

Mixing was a little tricky because the shortening mixture was so thick that the adults had to do the stirring while the little ones discovered how good sugar tasted.

The next ingredient, the teacher said, was what made the cookies sweet. It was a big cup of brown molasses that was passed around to each child. They were to measure ½ cup of molasses into the shortening and sugar mixture.

The grandmother next to us had come along with her daughter and granddaughter, but I could tell she was focusing on the mess more than the fun when her granddaughter wiped her curly locks away from her forehead with her sticky little molasses hands.

Fortunately, I had kept the molasses contained in our bowl, so when it was time to add the flour, Clare only had sugar in her hair.

It seemed that the reason the grandmother wasn’t having such a good time was that she was trying to keep the area clean while the mom was trying to help the child have fun.

When the cookie mixture was all finished, the teacher told the children they could put flour on the table to roll out the dough. Flour went everywhere all at once before any adult could stop it. I grabbed my camera and took pictures through sprays of white flour and gleeful children. The grandmother beside me, at this point, had to walk away from the table.

The teacher told the children to take the mixture out of the bowl and roll it into a ball. Hmmm, taste and feel the time I took the mixture or as much as I could retrieve from Clare’s sticky hands and rolled it into a ball and gave her the rolling pin. She loved that part and at first did quite well, but after a while, the mixtures were very thin. Every time I tried to turn it over, she protested.

The grandmother had come back to the table this time to get things under control. She began rolling out the cookie dough while the little girl was wailing to roll the dough. Finally, the cookie cutters were distributed. The grandmother helped the little girl next to us cut out perfect cookies. Ours were vague images of cats, leaves, pumpkins, acorns, and a few unidentifiable shapes.

The cookies went into the oven while the little ones continued to roll the rolling pin in the flour. When clean-up time came, each child got to choose a wet sponge in their favorite color. So that you know, when wet sponges and loose flour meet, it becomes a sticky mess.

After a while, the mothers took over. They helped the children out of their chairs and cleaned up the mess while the teacher read to the children. They were adorable sitting on the floor with flour in their hair, molasses stuck to their eyelashes, and dough underneath their fingernails, but at least their clothes were clean.

As for the grandmother next to us, she looked like she needed another adult to talk to, so I introduced myself. We talked a little about raising our children. She told me about how she taught her daughter to cook when she was little. She looked happy when she related several cooking mishaps to me.

The class at the community center was not necessarily about teaching toddlers how to make cookies. It was more about giving parents and their child time together, teaching coordination, and having fun. I asked the grandmother if she remembered the kind of cookies she and her daughter cooked when they were younger, and she said, “No, not really.” Then we smiled at each other.

With flour in our hair, molasses on our blouses, and ginger as our perfume, we knew these moments with our granddaughters were more about making memories than making cookies.

 

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Deana Landers
Author for Morningcoffeebeans.com

Deana Landers has had many roles in life — Pastor’s Wife , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer and Motivational Speaker ... more