From Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul

To Toast a Dad

It was an incident Terry could not appreciate or even fully understand: he needed cookies for his first grade class. The day I found out was the day before the cookies were to be consumed by forty-something six-year-olds. The note, sent a week earlier, had been folded and left in a book.

“Terry! This says you need cookies tomorrow!”

“Yeah, Mom, chocolate chip, sugar cookies, and peanut butter. I told the teacher you would bake them.”

It wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but we lived a good twenty minutes from town, and our second son was just a few months old. I was working the midnight shift at a telephone answering service and had just gone back to work that very week. So I was a little more tired than usual trying to get used to the hours.

Gil, my husband, worked day shift, and I slept after he came home. Sometimes I was lucky enough to get a nap with the baby, but not today; I had cookies to bake. To top it off, we used propane and bought it about every six weeks in 100-gallon bottles. Instantly, I hoped there was enough gas.

Nowadays children take store-bought cookies for safety reasons, but back then no mother was going to send any less than homemade cookies from scratch. I was no different.

Once Terry was off to school, I immediately started baking. Sometime before lunch, I ran out of gas. Not a “big” problem because Gil’s mom lived next door. I quickly called her, and, of course, she said bring the baby first then return with the ingredients.

So back and forth I ran with cookie sheets, flour, sugar, and cooling racks. I was still baking when Terry came in from school, so I left the last of the cookies cooling and had “Meemaw” put them in the carrying containers—a doublepie holder and a large square cake holder, both Tupperware with easy-tote handles.

Right before Gil got home from work, I told Terry to run and get the two containers of cookies from Meemaw’s. I was ready to drop, and the baby was awake, I had supper to make, and where was Terry? He should be back!

I stuck my head out the door just in time to see a little freckle-faced boy with a mass of red curly hair singing and swinging both containers of cookies. One of his hands swinging one way, while the other was swinging in the opposite direction. And he was skipping!

My yell echoed across the yard just as the lids flew off both containers. Cookies flew through the air onto half-thawed ground. I could hear Terry saying how sorry he was, somewhere behind my tears. He was trying to pick them up, and just as I got to him, I saw that he was crying, too.

“It’s okay, you can’t save them, honey. They are dirty, and my little boy’s class isn’t eating dirty cookies.”

We walked back to the house, both feeling sorry for ourselves.

When Gil came in, he saw the shape I was in. “I will go to town and buy some cookies,” he suggested, knowing I would pull a no-sleep-before-midnight shift.

“No. Terry is not taking store-bought cookies to school,” I said.

“I will call his teacher and tell her he cannot bring them, and that’s that.”

I don’t remember what happened later that night; but I was one depressed momma. I never called the teacher; I thought I’d just send a note the next morning. Around midnight I went to work.

The next morning when I got home, there on the kitchen table were the two containers “magically” filled with cookies. Gil had left for work; Meemaw was with the boys.

“Meemaw, you shouldn’t have made these cookies! It was too much work so late at night.”

“I didn’t make those cookies,” she said, about the same time it dawned on me that she had no idea what had happened.

“These are the cookies you made, aren’t they?” she asked.

“No, and I don’t know where they came from if you didn’t bake them.”

Nevertheless, my son left for school with his cookies, all three flavors.

That night when Gil came in from work, I realized what kind of man I had married and exactly what kind of father our boys were lucky enough to have.

When I asked him where the cookies had come from, he said he baked them.

“You’ve never baked a cookie in your life!”

“No, but you have recipes,” he said. “I can read a recipe.”

“But, Gil, we had no gas. The stove wouldn’t work, and your mom didn’t even know Terry spilled the cookies! How did you do this?”

“I baked them in the toaster oven,” he said.

“I baked them three at a time,” he said through a grin— and it had taken him only all night long.

Jo Ann Holbrook

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