Snow days can be wonderful gifts. They are often unexpected, so when they do occur they have a magical feel about them. Taking us back to the days when we were kids and all we wanted to do was build snowmen, drink hot cocoa and warm up by the fire. We had a snow day this week that, despite the fact that I didn’t get to do any of the above, was one that I will remember for a long time to come. It taught me several lessons that I’m not sure I can fully articulate in a blog post. But I am going to try.
It started like any other snow day. Nice and slow. With pancakes, bacon and no sense of urgency whatsoever. But right about the time my son went to take a nap things got interesting. You see, as I mentioned in my previous post, my daughter has just recently become passionate about cooking. Awesome! Anytime a child becomes passionate about something it is a thing of beauty.
Well today she wanted to make macaroons. Apparently she had promised some of her classmates that she would be bringing them some the next day. Okay, sugar cookies are one thing, but macaroons? You’ve got to be kidding me! When I heard this I thought to myself, Jon back away slowly and don’t make eye contact. This could get ugly. First, do we even have the ingredients to make this complex cookie? Second, and selfishly, I wanted some time to just chill. I wanted to take advantage of this gifted day by doing as little as possible.
But first and foremost I am a dad.
So I tried to talk my daughter out of making these complex creations. I gave as many reasons as I could think of that I thought would convince her to take on a more appropriate cookie for her/our experience level. I say our, because at this point I had decided I wasn’t going to let her do this alone. I figured it would be good bonding time.
After several unsuccessful attempts at convincing her to try a more basic cookie, I had a moment of clarity. By day I am an educator who wants students to push themselves and always reach for new heights. So why was I trying to talk my daughter out of a challenge that she herself was passionate about taking on? I had no good excuse.
So we entered the Macaroon Forest together. Cue the theme song to Lord of the Rings because here we come.
As we began to eyeball various recipes we realized that our cooking supplies were rather thin. We were going to have to find one that required minimal ingredients. This did not weaken my daughter’s resolve.
Next, I began to read the recipe and immediately became flustered by the fact that I couldn’t translate words to images. What do they mean fold the batter? Arghh! My daughter grabbed the iPad out of my hand, as she should have, and went immediately to YouTube so that we could watch someone baking the cookies. Enter the 21st century Jon! This is an option.
Okay, this almost seems doable. In the beginning, my daughter was the upbeat-optimistic-chef and I was the negative-pessimistic-naysayer. But she hung in there with me with me and it wouldn’t be long before I would have an opportunity to return the favor. We reached the point when it came to use the mixer. I’m not going to lie, I was still worried, but it did seem like at this point we still had a chance.
And then I allowed my focus to slip for a split second. The bowl slipped and half of our precious mixture that we had worked so hard to create went all over the counter. I lost it! I acted like a two-year old who didn’t get their way. I cursed. I threw something. It was embarrassing to say the least. I knew what these cookies meant to my daughter and I couldn’t believe that I had screwed this up. Our last two hours of work were going to be all for naught! Nevermind the fact that our first batch of cookies came out looking like, well, take a look.
In a matter of seconds our roles reversed. My daughter was a bucket of tears and I became the optimistic cheerleader that was determined to make this work. But how? Our first batch was way off the mark and at this point we had minimal batter left with which to try to salvage something of our endeavor. My daughter had promised her friends that she was going to bring them macaroons and now she realized that it wasn’t going to happen.
This isn’t how this was going to end!
I won’t let it!
Maybe her friends weren’t going to be receiving their promised cookies. But all of our blood, sweat and tears weren’t going to be wasted. I’ve got it! Our new mission was to make one perfect cookie. We can do that! I was certain of it.
I worked frantically to see that we would produce one awesome macaroon. It took a lot of icing and it took a lot of patience. But I think we were able to pull it off! Here was our final product. Our One Shining Macaroon!
In the end, my daughter was okay with not having cookies to take to her friends. Both of us realized that making macaroons was no joke and we felt good about how it all turned out. We spent three hours working our way through the Macaroon Forrest and came out relatively unscathed. A few battle scars. But not the type that you want to cover up. No, these scars were the type that you look to for courage and strength when times get tough.
I learned much that snow day.
I learned that my daughter is not afraid to take on a challenge.
I learned that there will be times in my life when I will need my daughter to carry me, instead of vice versa.
I learned that sometimes giving up may seem like the only option, but if you dig deep enough you can usually find a better one.
But more than anything, I learned that there will be times in my life when a whole batch may not be possible.
And that’s okay.
Because to be quite honest, One Shining Macaroon is just fine.
In fact, it’s all I really need.