“Mom, today is the first day of the month! That means I cook!” Dallas had been begging me for weeks to set aside one day as a “kid’s cook” day. “David and Ana and I can pick out the menu and get the ingredients when we go to the grocery store and then we can do all the cooking and you and dad can go read your Bibles.” Really, how do you turn that down? So I had agreed to make the first of every month “Kid’s Cook” Day, but today was the first of May, and not only had we not planned a menu or picked up ingredients, but we were leaving for an international trip the next day, we weren’t packed, my todo list was a mile long, we had spent the entire day cleaning the kitchen and we were supposed to attend a pot luck at church in the evening. It was not a good day to turn kids loose in the kitchen. Still, I had committed, however regrettably, to this date, and two big brown eyes weren’t going to let me forget it. “Ok, Dallas. I guess you could make a cake for Bible study. We could grab frosting while we are out this afternoon, but please, please keep the kitchen clean. You know we just spent the whole morning scrubbing it.” “OK Mom. Don’t worry, I will take care of it!” I gave him the recipe. A chocolate cake from scratch. Ambitious for an eight year old, maybe, but Dallas has actually done quite a bit of cooking. So, I handed him the recipe, made him responsible for his little brother, and took his little sister with me to clean the bedrooms. “Let us see what Squirt does flying solo” right? (Finding Nemo) And when I passed through the kitchen a few minutes later I was impressed. Dallas and David had mop and dish cloth in hand. After each ingredient they were mopping up any spills, then Dallas would read the next ingredient and measure it out for David to pour in. Over the next thirty minutes I checked on them periodically and they ran in to ask the location of certain ingredients. Elliana and I were hunched on the bottom bunk of the boys’ bunk bed, scrubbing a smudgy wall with magic erasers when Dallas ran in again.
“Mom, we only have enough baking powder for one cup and the recipe calls for three!” Pause.
“Dallas, did you just put a cup of baking powder in your cake batter?”
“Yes, the recipe calls for it.”
“Go read it again. I don’t think that is what the recipe says.”
“Yes, it is, see, right here, ‘three…’ oh, ‘three teaspoons.’ Oops.”
So we looked in the bowl, and there was the baking powder, dumped right on top of the sugar, salt, flour, and all kinds of other all-white ingredients. I scooped out what I could, dumping it into the trash while telling Dallas “I’ll do what I can but it’s hit or miss. The cake might not work now.” “Just from one ingredient?” “Yeah.” Dallas finished the cake, we mixed it up and it tasted great. It was just the right texture. The kids took turns carefully scooping it into a muffin pan, and I slid it into the oven. Five minutes later I noticed the cupcakes smelled done already- in fact, they almost smelled burnt. Hmmm… Opening the oven to investigate I was hit in the face with a cloud of black smoke. The cupcakes had erupted up in a mushroom cloud of atomized chocolate then collapsed in a ring of sticky, gooey, chocolate sludge. “Kids, I hate to break it to you, but I think your cake might have exploded.” I grabbed oven mitts and started pulling the toxic waste out of the oven, but the fall out on the oven floor was still smoking and we live in an apartment building. If our smoke alarm goes of the whole building evacuates. Envisioning a crowd of angry housewives and toddlers spending the morning in the parking lot because of our chocolate cake I shouted to the kids to grab towels and wave them under the smoke detectors while I turned off the oven and tried to stop the smoking. Chaos erupted briefly as kids ran back and forth across the house shouting and waving dish rags, but in the end the alarms did not go off and a few minutes later I caught up with Dallas:
“So, what happened?”
“I didn’t read the recipe right and the cake exploded!” (Said with the glee and appreciation only an eight year old boy can invest into the word “exploded!”)
“And what were the consequences?” His face turned a little more serious, not downcast, but thoughtful.
“We don’t have a cake, and there’s kind of a mess.”
“Mmmhhmm, and what about all those ingredients you used?”
“Well, I guess they were wasted.”
“Yup. So who is going to take care of most of those consequences?”
“Nope. I am going to make sure we have something for small group. I am going to clean up, and Dad is going to keep working so we can buy more ingredients.”
“See, when you are little we will help you out with the consequences as much as we can, but when you are bigger there will be no one; you will have to take care of them yourself. That is why Dad and I are always harping on you about being self controlled. Go slowly and think before you act because a minute of carelessness always has consequences.”
Then we ate the remains of the exploded chocolate cake. With apples, we called them chocolate bubbles. Dallas is working on perfecting the recipe- intentionally this time.