I had chocolate chunk muffins for breakfast this morning. Well, that’s what my 7 year old daughter Clara called them, when she told me I could have exactly four. This has been a common occurrence in my house lately, as Clara has truly discovered a love of baking. I get home from work, and a couple of times a week I find the counter filled with assorted muffins, cakes, cookies and breads.
I’d like to take the credit for instilling this passion in my daughter, but I’m afraid I can’t. We have an old family friend who helps us watch our younger children a couple times a week while I’m working and my wife runs one of the myriad carpools soccer practices force upon us. Doris is a special woman, as she took care of my wife when she was an infant, and has been part of her family (and now ours) ever since. Doris isn’t an emotional woman, and before our children were born, she always maintained her distance from us, even though she had been an integral part of my wife’s upbringing. But when we started to have kids, Doris changed. She doted on these children as if they were her own. She still calls my 9 year old son her “little man,” and when Doris’ mother passed away last year, the thing that brightened her spirits most were visits from her little man and his younger sister.
Doris gives our children the most important thing an adult can offer kids: her time and attention. And a few months ago, she started to cook with them. Clara was hooked right away, and now I often see her scouring through cookbooks to identify her next recipe to make with Doris. Even my 12 year old daughter Ryan (the one who acts 16) now wants to help, and when Doris isn’t around, Ryan and Clara come up with some new concoction to make, be it a smoothie or punch or “dessert sushi” (tortilla with chocolate, marshmallow, and other gunk, rolled and then sliced to look somewhat like a sushi roll). Over the holidays, each of the children wanted to help me bake a cake or cook some part of the meal.
I’ve eaten some mighty dry poppy seed muffins or cookies that lacked an essential vanilla flavor, but I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve tasted. My children are finally learning to love to cook, and for that, I have to thank Doris. Doris has been a dear friend and positive influence on our children, and she holds a very special spot in my heart. So when I ate my four chocolate chunk muffins this morning, I thought of what my wife said a couple of years ago: “Every kid should have a Doris.” Yes, the world would indeed be a much better place if every child had a Doris, and I’m glad we have ours.