Sunday, November 17, 2019

The sweet cookie monster and a sour thought

The cookie monster has hit our house—not so much the one that devours cookies, but the one that bakes them. For three weeks now, I have been consumed each weekend with making cookies, primarily for Jacob’s benefit. He gets them in his school lunch every day, but I also admit that I have them after my lunch and dinner. I remind myself of my late mother-in-law, who used to say, “Judy, dear, just a little sweet with my coffee.” I don’t have the coffee, but I sure like topping  meal off with something sweet. I’ve noticed that I almost never hit my chocolate stash if I have cookies on hand.

I started, of course, with chocolate chip cookies—to me, that’s the quintessential cookie. But when those disappeared, I made oatmeal raisin, because Jacob admitted to a real liking of them. Those are almost gone now, so today I made the dough for molasses cookies. That led to an interesting exchange. Me: “Do you like molasses cookies?” Jacob: “What’s in them?” Me: “Molasses.” Jacob: “What’s molasses?” How do you explain molasses to a thirteen-year-old? I’m sure if I let him sniff it, he’d say, “No, thanks. I’m not eating that.” But the cookie batter smells and tastes so good. Yes, I confess I licked the beaters and the spatula.

So now I have to bake them, which is tricky in a toaster oven. It heats too hot and fast, and I have to adjust. Made stuffed eggplant this weekend, and the top got all crusty and dry—too hot too fast.

While it’s fun to bake cookies for a teen, I think often these days that raising a teenager—or loving grandchildren—is fraught with perils that I never thought of when my kids were teens. I know I’m inclined to be a worrier, but danger seems to lurk everywhere. It’s not unheard of for Jacob’s school to be on lockdown, and while I’m glad authorities are so cautious, I can’t help but be alarmed each time. Surely a shooting won’t happen here—but that’s what the people of Santa Clarita thought.

On Facebook I see too many notices pleading for help finding missing teens. I know a lot are runaways, and I ache for the unhappiness that must cause them to make such a dangerous decision. But we also hear too much these days about sex trafficking, and I wonder how many of those kids have been outright kidnapped and sold. A horrifying thought. If Jacob is a bit late or plays basketball on the schoolyard at dusk, I can conjure up horrible thoughts. My other grandchildren are in a way fortunate that I don’t live close enough to worry about their every move.

But as I admitted, I am a worrier. I worry a lot about my dog Sophie and almost never let her out in the yard unless I’m at my desk where I can watch her. My fear? That dogfight people will come snatch her. When I see notices on the Neighborhood News or some such of dogs needing a new home, I almost always write and recommend that people register the dog with a recognized rescue service which vets prospective owners carefully. I’ve heard that dogfight guys will send their cute girlfriend to ooh and aah over what a good pet a dog will make, only to flip it as a bait dog. (As I write this, Sophie is sitting on the deck, across the yard, watching me.)

Probably I am a person with exaggerated fears. Sometimes I blame it on my childhood on the South Side of Chicago, where I was raised to be cautious—well, yes, scared. Other times I attribute my fears to the over-active imagination of a writer. Now if I could only translate those fears into best-selling mysteries!

On the other hand, there’s that old bromide: better safe than sorry. Be cautious folks—there’s a world of meanness out there. Having said that, I have to admit I cling to my belief that there is so much more good in the world than evil, and in people. It’s just those aberrations we have to watch out for.

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