Mess or Master Piece?

When your twelve-year-old asks to bake cookies and you already have your hands full with packing up leftovers and washing dishes after your dinner guests have left, you may opt to respond as I did by simply stating “You are old enough to read the directions and follow instructions.  The butter is already soft and the oven is preheated”.

Little did I know that such a simple task of reading the 3 ingredients (water, butter and pacakage contents) on the back of the chocolate chip cookie dough package would create the demise as seen in the illustration of this article.  One of the things I’ve always tried to instill in my children is the ability to read, comprehend and follow through.  At the age of twelve I was preparing a full course meal for my parents and had it ready by the time they arrived home.  Thirty five years later I’m standing in a my own kitchen listening to my 12-year-old try to make cookie baking seem as complicated as a holiday meal.

When I finally turned around from my now full sink of clean dishes to see a class bowl of very moist and clearly overly saturated cookie dough, I inquired what he had put in it and how much.  His response, ” I put the water in it, just a little”, “Using what apparatus I don’t see a measuring spoon anywhere”, I asked.  “I just took the bowl to the sink and used a spoon full” he replied.  That definitely wouldn’t make the dough as runny as it appeared.  So I allowed him to proceed with his baking watching the wet dough hit the cookie sheet with full awareness that this was not going to turn out well.  I was still puzzled at what could have gone wrong.  He only had three items and one was the dough itself.  Then it hit me! “How much butter did the recipe call for?” I asked.  “I don’t know” he shrugged.  Retrieving the empty dough packet from the trash can and reading the instructions the answer stood boldly in my face.  One-half stick of butter.  There it was.  My little champion chief had used an entire stick and the outcome was a glob of buttery crisp chocolate chips rather than an actual cookie.  Food is too expensive to waste and he was adamant that the destructive nature of his mess meant he couldn’t cook, as a mother who always must be quick on her feet my response was both satisfying and fulfilling.  “You created cookie crisp just crumble them up and put them on top of a bowl of ice cream,” I said.  The grin on his face was worth the loss of the remaining 6 uncooked cookies and the other half stick of butter.

How often have you been given the responsibility to complete a task that required you to simply READ the instructions, FOLLOW Directions or FINISH a project? Sometimes we get in such a hurry for the end result that we fail to slow down enough to ensure that the process or steps that we’re taking will get us there.  Maybe you have been assigned a duty in which you wasted materials, time or talent and created more of a mess then something enjoyable.  We’ve all done it from time to time.  The bigger question is how did you make the most of the mess? In my son’s case the cookies were still eatable even though they were very unattractive.  Everything in life that looks good won’t necessarily be good for you and everything that looks bad shouldn’t necessarily be discarded before you try it. Whether in work, relationships, parenting, business or daily life challenges, be mindful of the things that you wish to throw away because the end result is less than appetizing.  If your cookies aren’t coming out to perfection, crumble them up and add them to something that brings you joy.  Find value in the mistakes that you make and create better opportunities as a result! Don’t allow a buttery glob to ruin your intuitive nature to try new things and concepts.  We can learn more from our mistakes than our perfections.

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