Right now I am a miracle of over-achievement. I have meringues in the oven, french toast in the pan, gingerbread dough ready to roll, and now I’m trying to blog. I’m also letting Elmo and a bowl of apple slices do the child-minding, because though Mabel annouced she was ready for her nap as soon as we got in the door from school – and so was I; this morning was a co-op morning, so I spent two and a half hours rolling playdough, shaking glitter, breaking up three-year-old fights, reading stories while six children tried to sit on my lap, washing small hands and then trying to stuff them into mittens: I’m pooped – she then did not fall asleep but popped up again and asked what was for lunch.
The meringues are because I made two batches of cookie dough yesterday, to give to friends as ready-frozen, bake-me-when-you-need-me presents, and my recipe calls for two egg yolks. Last time this happened I conscienciously put the unused egg whites in the fridge, whence I just extracted them five minutes ago, threw them out and reclaimed the tupperware container I’ve been without for a few months now. So I made today’s meringues with the more recent whites in an attempt to atone – and honestly, it took three minutes and I should have learned how to do this years ago. (On the other hand, I haven’t tasted them yet. But they looked good going in.)
I made the gingerbread dough on Friday, and on Saturday morning, while B was out running a race, I presided over the most successful baking/decorating session we’ve ever had. I take no credit for this: the trick, as I told a friend who was lamenting her riotously chaotic attempt to decorate a gingerbread house in the company of three three-year-olds, is to have a five-year-old in the mix. While his sister piled up her dough and told me it was a castle, Dash industriously rolled and cut and pressed and shaped as carefully as my type-A little heart ever could have wished.
Perhaps we think that as soon as our kids are old enough to convey the results to their mouths independently, they’d really enjoy to bake and decorate some cookies, beginning a lovely family holiday tradition. But honestly, they won’t remember that you didn’t do it when they were two, and you’ll be a lot saner if you wait till they’re four or five before you start.
But then, maybe I’m just a curmudgeon. When we got to the decorating I gave them one cookie each, a tiny tube of icing which was all I had in the house, and a few chocolate chips for buttons. Minimalism, always minimalism.
Maybe when they’re sixteen I’ll be ready to tackle a gingerbread house.
(And I didn’t even burn the french toast.)