Or, "why I understand my parents better now that I have kids, part 205."
As a kid, I was sure that my parents had it all wrong. An Easy Bake oven (and a Barbie Dream House) were by far the best toys for me and my sisters, hands down. I knew how to bake, so it made perfect sense, right? Unfortunately for me, many years of letters to Santa and many holidays and birthdays passed without that coveted Oven showing up on my doorstep, under my tree, or in my grabby little hands. I never understood why. Did my parents know something that I did not?
If you ask any kid between the ages of about 8 and 25, they will tell you that their parents are clueless. Of course, if you ask someone who has kids, they will probably tell you that they are starting to understand why their parents did what they did. It is the beauty of life, and either way, I'm pretty sure our grandparents and great-grandparents who have passed away are up there somewhere laughing their butts off at us.
For me personally, there were many things about my parents' decisions that I did not understand. I was sure that they were deliberately trying to make my life miserable and had no idea how to actually raise human beings. (And I really, really wanted that Easy Bake Oven.)
Then I had kids. A few of you might have seen my Facebook post a week or two ago, wondering when children come to the realization that their parents are usually right about everything. Some of my older friends, with older kids, laughed outright (I could hear their laughter through their comments) at my question. Aunts and Uncles with children (my cousins) in their 20s and early 30s were laughing as well. A few admitting that their own children have finally (at that late age) started to acknowledge their parents' acumen. Apparently, at 5 and 10, mine have a ways to go.
But back to the Easy Bake. For some reason, B (the 10 year old) decided that she wanted one. (This was news to me.) She likes to "bake" with me - hang out in the kitchen and ask lots of questions while I bake - but gets bored easily and does not have a good attention to detail. I think this was her way of wanting to "connect" with me on a different level. Her Nana likes to take her shopping at Toys R Us for her birthday. This past birthday, B called me to ask if it was o.k. for Nana to get her the Oven. I hesitated and said that she really didn't need it (although newly redesigned), even if Nana was buying, and that we had an oven that worked quite well. (Do you hear my parents coming through yet?)
On her birthday, she gleefully opened up the large box from Nana and Papa, already knowing what was in it, and looked to me for approval. I sighed and shook my head.
Fast forward to yesterday, when I finally caved and let her open it. (Another thing I finally understand - my Dad's seemingly odd desire to have us not open gifts and play with them, but rather keep them pristine and in the box - but that's another blog post.) She happily starting pulling things out of the box and checking out the process. The 5 year old had her nose firmly planted in B's business, almost as excited as she was to "bake."
I asked to look at the instructions and saw fairly quickly that it was a relatively easy process of mixing powder with water, placing little balls of dough on a tiny pan and running it through a box-like machine that generated heat. I asked B to read the instructions carefully, like I always do, and sent her on her way. About 10 minutes later, I heard the first "oh no!" and wondered what was happening. (I was trying to let her test her wings and was across the room on the couch.) She had mis-read the instructions and poured too much water into the mix. There was no way to salvage it. And after telling her to pour it down the drain and start over with a new mix, Daddy stepped in and asked her if she understood now why I was so specific with things when I bake. I'm not sure if she got it or not. Recovering from her failure, she pulled out another mix and with K's help, made some cookies.
On the one hand, I now understand why my parents had always said "no" to the Easy Bake Oven. When I make a batch of cookies, depending on what I'm making, there is a yield of 2 to 4 dozen cookies. I use ingredients that I normally have in my house like butter, sugar, flour, etc., unless I'm making a cake with a mix. Depending on the cookie, I can fit 12 to 24 on a baking sheet at a time and they cook in my regular oven. Size-wise, they are usually at least bigger than silver dollars. Not to toot my own horn, but my cookies have taste and are considered delicious by many. The Easy Bake cookies were tiny (about the size of a penny) and one batch yielded about 10 cookies. There was not much taste beyond the sugar in the frosting (also a mix with water added) and the sprinkles.
But on the other hand, B was incredibly proud of herself, and for about a 1/2 hour, happy and entertaining both herself and her little sister.
At the end of the day, do we really need the Oven in the house? No. Will B someday figure out how to pay attention to the details in the directions and be able to bake with me in the big kitchen? Probably. (I hope so.) Do I now understand some of the reasons why my parents probably opted not to grant my wish to Santa for the Oven? Yes. Does it matter? Probably not. Aside from the fact that she does, in fact, already have the oven, she's happy. And at the end of the day, as long as she's not creating havoc in my kitchen, I think I'm o.k. with that.