Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine Message

He had been stewing all day. He hated writing his name over and over. The task was made worse when he didn't understand why it was necessary. What was the big deal about Valentine's Day anyway? "How many more do I have to do?" he whined.

"I don't know Eli. How many have you done since the last time you asked me?" I glanced at the small, messy pile of red, white, and pink hearts laying on the table.

"One I think." He slumped further down into his chair. His armpits seemed to be responsible for holding him up. I could barely see his eyes peering over the table. I knew his feet would still be dangling well off the floor. His resentment for the mundane task was beginning to spill over. I would have liked to see his boyishness for longer.

Oh to be five again, with the whole world before me I thought before answering his question. "Then you probably have four more left. You'll be done when that little itty bitty pile has your name on it and has been added to the big messy one on the table. It won't take long if you sit up and start writing."

He roared. Yes, a roar. No words were said. Just a loud noise coming from deep within his frustrations. I turned back to the sticky goo forming in the pot. As I stirred, I looked for the dark discoloration that would mean it had started to burn. I saw none. Few lumps remained and I dutifully stirred until they melted, completing the smooth mixture. I picked up the large bowl of carefully measured rice puffs and dumped them slowly in, whisking the two substances together. The bag said "strawberry", but the unnatural pink color made me think more of ecto plasm from Ghostbusters.

"I'm done!" His words echoed relief filled with irritation.

"Great! Are you ready to help me make the Crispie Cookies because they are ready for you!" I knew it would cheer him up. As expected, he bolted from his chair leaving the pen on the floor where it had been flung in his excitement. He climbed onto the stool by the island placed there in preparation of his participation. "Here. Take this glass and carefully smoosh this stuff down until you think a cookie cutter will fit through it."

He began smooshing the mixture, leaving many holes in some areas and huge towering piles in others. I worked quickly to help him without making it obvious that he needed my help. I knew from experience that it would set quickly. Once it set, there couldn't be any changes. After a few minutes, we managed to create an even and whole surface out of the Crispie Cookie mixture.

"Which one do you want to use first?" I offered my son two slightly different heart shapes. He took the bigger one and immediately smashed it down in the middle. It took him a lot of effort. He didn't have the strength or leverage to push the plastic edged cookie cutters through. I took over when he gave up, always reassuring him that if he was doing his best then he was doing a great job.

This is one of my favorite times of day. We chat amiably, share jokes, talk about the world and how the two of us fit into it, and generally really enjoy each other's company whenever we cook or create together. I suspect he enjoys this time as much as I do. But he is young and his attention span and patience are far more limited than mine.

Forty-five cookies later, he climbed down from the stool and ran off to his room to play. "They look grawsome! Thanks mom!" I smiled at the acknowledgement. After he was in bed, I would take the extra Crispie Cookies and decorate them with frosting and sprinkles. It would be my secret Valentine gift to him after he came home from preschool. Just a quiet way to tell him "I love you." One day, he would understand small gestures like that.


  1. I am laughing because I think you took my idea and did better.

    I like this but the pink makes me think of pepto.

  2. Jeff actually made these with the kids. I wrote the story based on what I guess would have been my experience. I didn't realize I was taking your idea. I thought of this while sitting in class.