Monthly Archives: April 2015

Lending a Helping Tentacle



This is a little day-in-the-life I wrote earlier this winter that I thought I would share. Enjoy!


Winter 2015


The sun is shining, the birds are singing, even the trees are freezing their asses off – it’s that cold outside. What a day! A day to huddle inside. A day to make muffins.

“Dadda, Dadda, I’m gonna help you.”

Wut? He noticed. Somehow Boy’s supersonic antennae read a change in the air. Perhaps alerted by an increase in atmospheric gluten set off the moment that the flour canister shifted, I know he’s on to me.

Now that the offer of assistance has been made and regardless of my consent, we’ve entered into a binding contract. Allow me to help make muffins or feel the full weight of my shit-nuttery.

It’s okay. I actually enjoy it when he helps, even though everything takes twice as long and there is the potential for disaster around every corner. What takes a bit of getting used to is the sudden boost in household activity. A moment ago I was sucking back a second cup of coffee and trying to remember where I left my pants. Suddenly, chairs are being pushed up against the counter and I need to kung-fu block his hands before they test the edge of the paring knife I left out or the razor-sharp blades of a micro-plane that he somehow managed to dig out of the drawer.

The real trial comes when the ingredients start to emerge. Our routine actually works pretty well. I scoop the flour, Boy dumps it in the bowl. I pour the oil into the measuring cup, Boy chucks most of it on the counter. Somehow he manages to get a hand on every surface and into each powder and liquid. He mixes the flour and spices around (actually rather helpful) and tests the viscosity of the egg whites (not so much).

By the time the muffins are ready for the oven and I’ve dislodged most of the brown sugar from my underpants, we both look like we’ve had the baker’s version of a wet t-shirt party, flour poured over our heads and vanilla dabbed behind each ear.

The muffin tins slide into the oven and quiet settles over the land. Boy moves onto some other activity, reading a book in silence or trying to see if he can work the blender, and I go looking for more coffee or double bypass surgery. It’s like having an ink-firing squid as an assistant, with tentacles that latch onto every surface and the innate ability to make more mess than seems possible with something as benign as a muffin.

Is it worth it? Wouldn’t a bag of oatmeal make for easier cheaper breakfasts?

Absolutely (on both counts).

People say that anyone who can read a recipe can bake, which I believe is true. But, and this is important, can anyone tell whether a batch of bread dough is ready by touching it? Do they know if a cake needs a few more minutes in the oven by the smell? I was kneading dough with my mother likely before I could walk and Wife has been around so many rising pastries that she never sets a timer. This kitchen muscle memory, imparted at such an early age, is irreplaceable. It would be a poor repayment of my mom’s patience if I was scared off by a bit of baking soda in the eyes.

At the same time, Boy’s desire to help is one of his finest attributes. It’s meant that cleaning up toys is a no-brainer. All I have to do is start and he pitches right in. I hold out hope that he’ll keep this virtue right through his teenage years (harharhar).

I would love to stay typing all day, but the timer is about to go off and it’s time to spend the next half hour keeping a pair of paws away from a screaming hot pan. If you don’t mind, I think I’ll put down the keyboard. I just found some eggshells in my one of my socks.