The strawberries in our refrigerator didn’t have much life left in them. June, on the other hand, was radiating with life and energy that afternoon. Having just learned to walk meant she was faster than usual at getting into the kitchen cupboards and pulling out pans and dishes, snacks and vitamins. As I cleaned up one mess in her wake, she would move on to the next cupboard, opening the cupboard doors and reminding me that yes, I would have to get locks on the doors if I wished to keep my sanity. When June becomes busy like this, I always think of racoons at state parks, pulling off the lids of trash cans and circling campers’ tents. It was time for an activity, I knew. And those almost rotten strawberries were the key.
From the moment I pulled June’s high chair to the counter, she knew exactly what was happening. Quickly, I gathered the ingredients and supplies. She was getting impatient with me now, throwing herself against my legs and whining. But the moment I lifted her up, her attitude changed. She was excited, ready and looking at me for the next step. “Mmmmm Mama ma ma mmmm,” she repeated again and again.
I let her pour in the ingredients, then pulled her off the chair so that she could watch the Kitchen Aid mix her masterpiece. “We were making biscuits,” I told her, “for strawberry shortcake. So, there would be more steps than she was used to.”
I then took her into the living room and dumped my collection of cookie cutters out in front her. It’s a pretty big collection that she has never seen before and she widely smiled in wonder. Buried beneath the others, we found the dog cookie cutter and took it into the kitchen. Placing her back on the stool, I taught her to use the rolling pin. Methodically, we rolled the dough out onto the counter, my hands pressed against hers. Then using our cookie cutter, we carefully cut our biscuits out. June had never used a cookie cutter before and as we finished each one, she barked at the dogs we created.
Later after dinner, as I served our dessert, Sean excitedly complimented her fine work. And whether she completely understood or not, I’m couldn’t tell. But she smiled nonetheless and took a giant bite of her handy work, strawberry syrup dripping down her hands and on her chin.