Grandson Jacob hung way out in the ‘burbs at Camp Grandma for a few days recently. I raised my hand skyward to volunteer when our Katie couldn’t find him a summer camp the week of 4th of July. The 5-year-old is a delightful soccerball full of energy. After creating and filling up an Excel spreadsheet full of activities, I deemed myself over-prepared!
At the top of my list was one of my personal favorite activities … baking cookies. Everyone wins with homemade cookies. The entire project takes hours. Pop-pop and Jacob get a delicious treat when the cookie sheets are carefully lifted out of the oven. It’s just for looks, but I lay a flyswatter beside the cooling cookies to ward off big and little thieving fingers lookin’ to lift cookies before they are ready for munching.
The beauty of baking is all the Excel spreadsheet subcategories that go with just this one activity. There is picking out the recipe, the list-making of ingredients in blue crayon, the purchasing component, the actual making and apron-wearing, and the all-important clean-up song. I envisioned a tuckered-out grandson by the time we arrived at the clean-up step.
I wanted to give the little guy choices, so Jacob picked out his favorite cookie in the entire hemisphere. The dude knew exactly what he wanted. “Cookie Monster” is his unofficial middle name.
“I think we should make chocolate chip cookies with Mini M&M’s,” Jacob told me thoughtfully.
At the grocery store, we definitely had major issues locating the Mini M&M’s. Like riding an oblong merry-go-round, we went up and around the same aisle several times. I couldn’t find the mini ones anywhere. That was when Jacob sprang into superhero mode. One more time down the candy aisle and there they were … eyeball level with a 5-year-old. Who knew? Finally, we were ready to check out!
When we finally arrived at the actual cookie-baking part, I held out the vanilla extract with the cap off and offered Jacob a sniff. I told him, as I had my kids when they were little, how beloved vanilla extract was to his grandma. So much so it would make a lovely perfume. Dab a little here and a little there. I’d call it … Vanilla Extract Eau de Parfum.
“Are you going to put a drop on both my cheeks like my momma does?” Jacob asked.
I smiled. It was at that moment I realized offering my own kids a vanilla extract whiff decades ago during our many cookie-baking exploits had indeed made an impact. It was proof that a legacy had been handed down to a new generation.
In three short days, Jacob and I saw the new “Toy Story” and “Secret Life of Pets” movies, window shopped at a local toy store, ate fast food lunch out every day, made a detailed shopping list, grocery shopped for cookie ingredients, baked cookies, did some gardening, and read lots of superhero bedtime books. And yes … there was lots of popcorn spilled on the floor at the movies … but only once. Darn those kid’s boxes. Worst design ever.
Along with Jacob, I was ready for my head to crash into the pillow at eight bells each night. I mean … I had his dance card booked so tight there weren’t many moments for him to miss his parents, or to say my least favorite words, “I’m bored.” Didn’t happen.
Can’t wait for the little ones, Ben and Zelie, to someday take their turns at Camp Grandma’s house. I can save over my Excel spreadsheet and just change the name. And there is already a couple of bottles of vanilla extract on the shelf with each of their names on it.