He’s eleven now.  That boy with hair the color and texture of mine.  He stole my heart when he was five.  He still manages to steal it now.  I don’t know how much longer he’ll want to play with me in the kitchen, but for now he’s excited to say “yes” when I ask if he wants to bake.  I promised him a chocolate caramel cheesecake when I found this recipe. I knew that these cookies would be the only conversion necessary to make the recipe safe for all of us to enjoy together.

He stood at the kitchen counter as I gathered the ingredients, we have baked together often enough he understands the routine.  Hands clasped in concentration he read from the directions I had printed.  Slowly we worked through each section together.  Frequently I called to him to look into the mixing bowl, to take a taste of the batter at each stage, to see what “creamed” looked like, to taste the bittersweet chocolate before it was blended into the caramel goodness.  Each phase his eyes lit up with anticipation.  He reminds me how to be entirely in the moment, to savor the process and not just the result.  He stared intently at the pot where the sugar turned to a consistency similar to rock candy, then to liquid, then to a lovely caramel.  He watched in fascination as it turned to a deep amber and laughed with glee as the cream made the amber goo foam.  That last taste of batter he told me “I can taste it, I can taste the caramel and the chocolate apart and together, the layers, I can taste them”.  His green eyes lit up with the discovery.  I smiled and told him “remember that Bear, always remember to taste as you go so that you understand how the taste was built”.  His only reply was a hug.

I showed him the food processor and gave him the ingredients for the crust.  He mixed it himself from start to finish, with pride.  He stirred and felt and thought.  He asked for more “wet stuff” and with a slight chuckle I handed him another tablespoon of butter. He mixed slowly and then told me “I think its right now, can you check with your head too?”.  With a quiet laugh I nodded my approval to him.  The woman in me smiled at the boy but the girl I once was sighed in deep satisfaction.  As a child I dreamed of the days I would teach my children to cook and bake not by words on a page but from my hand to theirs.  In my dream world my grown children would be asked how they knew how to prepare food and with a shrug they would say “I just know” because it would have been an always part of them.

God chose to give me a different version of my dreams.  The child with the wide eyes and awed laughter baked his own birthday cheesecake standing with me on my tile floor. A dream I didn’t have the wisdom to dream come true.

Happy Birthday my red headed boy. I love watching you experience life and find joy in the everyday experiences.  I love you.  Enjoy your cake, Precious One.

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