Immediately this morning an explosion of “I get to stir the pancake batter! I get to pour the milk! He got to mix the egg! It’s not fair!!” And Kenji — at two — for his part saying, “Kenji’s turn! Kenji! KENJI!!” And me over all of it swearing on the wire whisk that we will never EVER make pancakes, EVER again, and simultaneously thinking that I cannot keep this promise – threat – promise, and that parents really mustn’t make empty threats because it confuses children, and then my arm goes into the open milk carton and it flies across the table, landing on its side where it weakly heaves milk over the table, onto the chair, then the floor where it splatters the wall then spreads, creeping toward the carpet as the flow of milk slows like a dying fish gasping for a last breath.
So I tell Koki to go get her homework to finish and tell Kenji to stir and not to stick his fingers in the batter, and think that next time – really – I should make a cup of coffee BEFORE we start, but somehow the pancakes get made without further disaster, although now no one will eat them because Kenji has filled up on strawberries while waiting for them to cook and Koki is so deep in a story about a mouse writing a letter to a fox that she won’t stop to eat.
Zipping the pancakes into a baggy and sliding them into the freezer, I realize that the kids have it right: it’s not about the pancakes. It’s all about the stirring.