When my son, Jack, was about 3, he helped his father assemble a bookshelf.
Jack fetched a plastic hammer and screwdriver out of his toy toolbox and earnestly stood beside Randy, pretending to twist screws into the fiberboard back of the little bookshelf.
Randy pointed out the difference between flathead and Phillips-head screwdrivers, then guided Jack’s hands, helping him twist one of the screws into place. They continued to work, Randy securing most of the shelves into place while Jack twisted the occasional screw and pounded on the shelf with his toy hammer.
When they finished, Randy slid the shelf into place and thanked Jack for his help.
Jack smiled, admiring the shelf. Then he turned eagerly to his dad and said, “Is there anything else we can screw up?”
I recalled that episode a few weeks ago as Jack, now 13, helped my husband dismantle some bunk beds. And we still laugh about it regularly, whenever someone fetches a screwdriver out of the kitchen junk drawer and someone else asks, “What are you planning to screw up?”
Children really do say the darndest things – precious, priceless, adorable – as kindergarten teacher Cindy Deutsch learned recently when she compiled a Mother’s Day Cookbook for her students’ moms, filled with original recipes from the kids themselves.
“The children decided what recipes they wanted to include,” said Deutsch, who teaches at Minneha Elementary in Wichita. “Then one by one they came to me and told me what ingredients they needed and how to make it. Each one took this task very seriously and tried their best to give an accurate recipe.”
No kidding. Some examples:
Israel’s Pizza: “Three pepperonis, the whole thing of cheese (because I love cheese), 4 scoops of salsa, 3 puts of ketchup, 2 yellow breads. Mix up the whole container. Cook it in the oven for 3 minutes at 16 degrees. It’s done if it makes your finger hurt.”
Caden’s Oreo Cake: “Three Oreo cookies, 4 round breads, flour. Poke flour on the bread. Mix it and put it in the cold oven. Make the oven hot and cook for 1 minute at 3 degrees. Put the cream on the cake to make it look like ocean waves.”
Siddartha’s Chocolate Brownie Cake: “Two scoops sugar, 1 scoop of egg, 3 scoops of milk, 1 inch chocolate brown sugar. Mix it all up. When it is done, you put it in a brownie cake pan. Put in in the oven and fry it for 2 degrees a long time. You better wait until it is cooked to eat it.”
Khaled’s Pancakes: “One flour, 1 water about one finger deep. Mix it up. Put four pancakes in the square flat thing that you just plugged in. You wait for it to burn and you turn it the other way for 5 minutes until it burns again. It’s done when it rings.”
Layla’s Chocolate Cookies: “Three chocolate chips, 3 slices of bread at the bottom. Make the bread into a circle shape with a play-dough cutter. Then you put the chocolate chips on the bread and put it in the oven. You know it is done when smoke comes out.”
Those moms probably won’t try any of those recipes anytime soon, but I bet this cookbook will be one of their most treasured possessions.
There are things my children said or did when they were younger that I remember only because I wrote them down in a little journal, or because a teacher was kind enough to write them down for me.
You think you’ll always recall the way your daughter called spaghetti “Sue Betty” or referred to the grocery store as “Cheese Buy” because – duh! – that’s where we buy cheese. You swear you’ll remember every word to the storybook video version of “The Three Robbers” because your son recited it 57 times a day – The first had a blunderbuss! The second had a pepper blower! And the third had a huge red ax!
But those memories fade like the tattered edges of a security blanket.
If you have young children or grandchildren, do yourself a favor this Mother’s Day weekend. Write those funny stories down. Put them in a safe place. Then go bake a batch of cookies or some other favorite treat.
You’ll know it’s done when smoke comes out.