I’m a cookie baker of some renown. I enjoy baking cookies, and much practice has made me pretty darn good at it.
Creating cookies, as you may know, involves a fixed process, a stately process. There’s the temperature of the ingredients, the creaming of the butter, the gradual blending in of the sugar and so on. Each step in its rightful turn. Making cookies has nothing to do with rushing or haphazard activity. It is an art, and it is The Process that makes it such.
One day third-grader Chuckie announced (Chuckie always announced and never merely said) he wanted to make cookies. Specifically he wanted to make chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies, his favorite. Well, it warmed the cockles of my cookie-baking heart. My son desired to join me in my arena, moving us toward a shared pleasure.
I smiled benignly on my child and pronounced it a splendid idea. The sun shone. Birds sang their high-pitched melodies. The earth was in its proper orbit and all was well with the world.
Together we located the recipe and gathered all the ingredients together. Then I stepped back to watch the fruit of my womb experience the pleasure of The Process.
Being a boy-child, Chuckie didn’t bother with reading the instructions, the step-by-step description of the rite of The Process. He just started measuring, somewhat casually it must be said, and dumping the ingredients into the mixer bowl, creating a haphazard mound of it all.
Aghast, I paled. My mind reeled. My heart raced. His slap-dash approach totally ignored The Process. And worse yet–if indeed worse were even a possibility–he did so happily. He hummed with pleasure as he destroyed my dreams.
Well! Only one motherly course of action suggested itself: I had to leave the kitchen while I could still contain myself. The damage to the results of this baking adventure already done, describing the necessity of The Process became pointless. Besides, the ability to do so in a calm, loving manner lay well beyond my present state.
My dreams shattering around me, I fled the room to find an activity that would distract me from my dismay–and keep me from saying anything that would destroy my son’s enthusiasm and obvious pleasure. It couldn’t be cleaning; that would only wreak additional havoc on my sense of being in harmony with life. Reading! That was it; I’d read.
An appropriate time later, Chuckie sought me out and invited me to come and taste the results of his industry. I had, by then, found a measure of philosophical calm and went with him to the kitchen and the cookies that awaited sampling. As I went, I pondered how I might console him on the poor results of his efforts and explain to him the wonders of The Process.
I tried to adopt a poker face, so an inadvertent change in my expression wouldn’t break his heart. I slowly raised a cookie to my lips.
One bite said it all. The cookies were delicious. Process or no process, they tasted marvelous. Easily as good as my chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies. Together we celebrated the wonder of it all. Chuckie beamed with success.
The process went unmentioned. I mean, what would be my point?
However, for me, the art of cookie making still means stepping my way through the process. I find it enjoyable, even soothing, but now I’m clear it’s a tradition, not a theology.
And Chuckie? Among his many accomplishments, he turned out to be a great cook. He probably still skims the instruction part, though.
Wonderful as he is, a clone he is not.
You can read more of Bette Dowdell’s thoughts about meeting life head-on at
© 2008 by Bette Dowdell. All rights reserved.