“If you give a mouse a cookie,” The book begins and my son scoots closer to me on the carpet. He turns the pages, faded from years of reading.
“What’s that?” he asks, pointing to an illustration.
“What do you think it is?” I respond.
“A mess! To find a napkin?”
We go on, following a journey of a mouse on a mission to get a cookie and milk, napkin and hair trim. A mouse who cleans house. Who among us does not desire to have someone randomly show up, enjoy a cookie, and clean our house?
The book ends with a request for yet another cookie. My son grins at the last page and helps me close the book. He stands up and runs to the pantry, pulling it open.
“We bake cookies? Want bake cookies a-me?” His eyes are shining. He doesn’t know that after he went down for his nap I put butter out on the counter to soften.
“Sure! Let’s bake cookies!” my voice is high and cheery. Cookies are my specialty. His grin is so wide his eyes crinkle half-shut and he runs to help me move his learning tower close to the counter. He climbs up and I pull out ingredients. Flour, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla, and chocolate chips.
“Mama? We give cookies a mouse?” He asks as I set the mixer up, put the bowl in front of him, and hand him a stick of butter to unwrap.
“Do you think a mouse will come to have cookies with us?” The butter plops into the bowl with a metallic ting. I hand him another stick and pull out the measuring cups.
“Yeah! We have milk?” I’m measuring sugar for him to pour into the bowl. Last time we baked cookies I found sugar for days after.
“Sure! Do you want to count how many scoops of sugar we need?” I hand him the measuring cup and he counts out loud.
“One! Two! I DID IT MAMA! More scoops, please?” He covers his ears while the mixer makes a fluffy mess of the butter and sugar. The eggs slide in and I drizzle in the vanilla, making the kitchen smell warm, like a bakery.
“Flour next, right?” He helps scoop the flour out of the bag, one quarter cup at a time. I count in my head so we don’t under or over measure. His tiny hands work to hold the measuring spoons steady for baking powder and salt and then he asks if we need to mix it again.
We do. The mixer works with such vigor, even on its lowest setting, that he starts giggling.
“Look mama! It snowing!”
I find myself grateful we own a dustbuster as the flour and wet ingredients come together into a perfectly rich dough. I reach for the scissors and cut the bag of chocolate chips open, then turn off the mixer and pull the bowl away for him to see inside.
“Look, mama! It cookies! We add chocolate chips? I eat one?” We both dig into the bag for a few to sample before they go into the dough. We can’t eat the raw dough. Raw eggs make me itch. But we can eat the chocolate chips before they go in. A quick mix later and we are ready to turn the dough into cookies.
Oscar picks up the cookie scoop, a tiny ice-cream-scoop looking thing. He slides it through the dough and struggles to fill it.
“Mama, I need help!” I place my hand over his and we scoop the dough together, then he squeezes the handle of the scoop to plop round balls of chocolate-studded dough onto the silicone-lined baking sheets.
I slide the first tray into the oven and set the timer. The house begins to fill with the rich scent of freshly-baked cookies. I hear Oscar in the living room, turning pages of a book and whispering what he can remember of the story.
“It’s a mouse and you give him a cookie. Oh no! He get milk with his cookie. Oh look, there is a mess and the mouse cleans it up. Maybe mouse have another cookie?” His tone is melodic.
While he reads and the cookies bake, I clean up my little mouse’s mess from cookie-baking. Dustbusting up flour and wiping down counters. The timer beeps; the first tray of cookies are done, and I pull them out of the oven and quickly move them to a cooling rack. There is nothing quite so delicious as a cookie still warm from the oven. A second tray goes in and the timer is set. I go to join Oscar on the floor until the second batch of cookies comes out of the oven.
Oscar hears the timer beep for this tray and runs into the kitchen as soon as they’re out of the oven. His eyes are shining.
“Cookies! I eat one? Please mama, I eat one?” He’s vibrating with excitement.
“Of course!” The first batch out of the oven are cool enough to eat. I pick up the one with the most chocolate chips, reach down, and give my little mouse a cookie of his very own.