I agreed to watch a friends two sons this afternoon for a couple hours after church today (no, this is a good thing), beginning at noon.
It turns out that the wee ones had Christmas pageant practice today after church. Church ends at 11:30 or so. The practice I found out was going to be "about forty-five minutes or so." I did not bring food for them to eat lunch. (Sadly, this is not where I went wrong either.)
At ten to twelve, my friend called to confirm that we were still at church and dropped off her boys. I was expecting ten more minutes of pageant practice, and they can be entertained for that long, surely. For ten minutes? No problem. Unfortunately, it was almost forty more minutes of practice. And the wee ones still hadn't eaten lunch. (I'm starting to have a few regrets, but this isn't where I went wrong.)
When we got to our house at 1:45, I discovered that the two boys had eaten lunch already, so they just wanted to play. You can imagine how well lunch went over with Mister Man and Little Miss while their friends are calling to them and trying to get them to play. Little Miss sat right down and ate something, and I contented myself with Mister Man eating two bites of a sandwich and drinking his milk. Nope, still not where I went wrong.
Yesterday, I started baking Christmas cookies. I have to bring in cookies to Mister Man's school twice next week, and I volunteered to be the "nice" mom bringing in not only the nut free cookies (required) but also the egg free (an allergy in Mister Man's class) and dairy free (an allergy in the school in general) cookies. Those cookies were quickly and easily made yesterday, but by the time I finished those, the wee one and I were done baking for the day. The sugar cookie dough sitting in the fridge was going to stay there overnight.
So I decided that today would be a good day to finish the cookies and that the boys could help me. I rolled out the dough, and I showed them the selection of cookie cutters. Surprisingly, this wasn't too painful.
One of the boys asked if he could have a taste of the dough. I agreed and gave him a small sliver. I then spent the next hour and a half chasing after him and making him put pieces of dough down. This was the beginning of the end.
Since they were cut out sugar cookies, I figured we had to decorate them. I was envisioning using my sugar crystals of various colors with the stocking being sprinkled gently with red for the bottom and left clean on top. The snowflake would be perfect sprinkled in blue, while the star would look great in red -- and so on.
Apparently it's been awhile since I've decorated with children. The pile of yellow sugar on one cookie wasn't a huge issue, as I easily spread it around and calmly explained that you couldn't use that much sugar on a single cookie.
When they argued over the sugar and grabbed at the sugar the others had, smashing an elbow into a couple cookies along the way, I quickly devised a color sharing system -- at my call, they would each rotate the sprinkles to the right.
When Mister Man asked to use the new red sprinkles, I helped him open them. At that point, I turned around to do something -- stupidly, I'll admit. I heard the oh no! as I turned back around. Apparently the red sprinkles have very large holes in the top, and a pile of red sprinkles larger than the cookie now lay atop a poor snowman. I took a deep breath and quickly grabbed the still pouring sprinkle container then began trying to scrape up some of the teensy tiny grains of sugar. Muttering under my breath, I gave up.
The first tray done -- albeit over decorated -- I placed into the oven, and we started on the second tray. I placed the red sprinkles out of the way so no one would be tempted, and I contentedly monitored the over sugaring of the cookies. As the timer went off and I turned around to check the cookies in the oven, I really should have known better. One of the boys had opened the red container, and almost half the sprinkles in the bottle were now covering a reindeer and a bell. At least the boy had the good sense to right the bottle and stop pouring after the initial mishap.
I tried tilting the tray to better capture the excess sprinkles, which only worked minimally as both of the boys were putting their fingers in the sprinkles and gobbling the sugar as quickly as they could. My admonitions were met only with sheepish grins and more reaching. I checked the clock to see how long before I headed out for my Christmas party tonight (and by my, I mean me and other moms with no children present).
We continued decorating the cookies, and I continued fending off the boys from the stealing of dough and sugar. Somehow, I don't lose this battle when it's the wee ones, but these boys are more persistent. They also began begging to eat a cookie. I promised everyone could have a cookie once we got the second sheet out of the oven and they'd cooled somewhat (with Little Miss getting one of the strawberry thumbprint dairy free, egg free, nut free but surprisingly not taste free cookies we'd made yesterday).
As the cookies were ready, I placed a cookie for each child onto a plate and made sure they sat at the kitchen table to eat. I continued to work on rolling out the dough and finishing up the cookies. When I next looked up, the children had all left the table, and I can only pray that they washed -- or at least licked off -- their hands before going to play in the rooms with carpet and other light colored objects.
This is about when I realized that over sugared cookies have a bigger problem than just wasting the sugar. About three-quarters of the sugar that had been in the dispensers now lay strewn about not only the kitchen table but on the floor all around the table as far as the eye could see. I sighed and was mildly grateful that this wasn't summer and therefore no ants would smell the sugar that I'd missed, knowing it would take me several rounds of sweeping and mopping to capture all the errant grains.
They did all have fun, and I sent the boys on their merry way not long after with a big plate of the cookies they'd helped me make. I surveyed my kitchen and sighed.
Moral of the story? Making cookies with children isn't a bad thing. However, next time we're going with icing. Sugar is best left in the hands of experts.
And now? I have seven minutes before I need to be at a party that has only adults, some adult beverages and a basement full of delectable goodies. I'm feeling better already.