|my grandmother's cookie jar|
Thursday I came home and found Owen hunched at the table eating cereal. I said, “What happened at school today?”
Owen: “Stuff.” A silence. Then: “When are you going to give me back my iPod Touch?
He knew the answer to this, but wanted to bicker, to make clear right off the bat that we weren’t friends on this particular afternoon. The answer to the question was: You get the iPod back when you’ve emptied your lunch box, picked up your dirty clothes, finished your homework, and somehow managed not to be a complete jerk during the time it takes to get that done. Good luck with the last part, little buddy.
The iPod issue passed without detonation.
A few minutes later, he went to the refrigerator, extracted the orange juice, and started swinging the bottle back and forth like a pendulum. It wasn’t a gentle swinging. It was the motion you make when bowling.
“Stop that please,” I said. “It makes me nervous you’re going to drop it.” There is precedent.
He stopped. I didn’t see his eyes light up, but in a cartoon, his eyes would have lit up. Immediately, he began to shake the bottle up and down. It wasn’t a gentle shaking, it was the motion people make when chopping wood with an axe, but faster. I hate the word "bark" when used to describe human speech, especially my own, but I barked: “STOP IT! I told you not to do that.”
Owen: “What?! You did not!” He continued to shake the orange juice bottle, which I then wrested from his hands and returned to the refrigerator.
Jennifer: “I told you to stop swinging the orange juice.”
Owen: “I wasn’t swinging it, I was shaking it.”
Jennifer: “You are definitely not getting your iPod back today.”
Owen: “Oh my God, Mom, you're so unfair. I was shaking the orange juice. You have to shake orange juice before you pour it. Don’t you even know that?” The last line spoken with withering condescension.
Et cetera. It went on for about 7 minutes.
My mistake was shouting at him, engaging, letting know he got my goat. I can break this cycle only by keeping my cool and exacting stiff penalties, but I often find it hard to be unruffled, wise, far-sighted, tired, stern, and intensely irritated in a single moment.
After that, I made cookies. Owen had said earlier that he wanted chocolate chip cookies, so I made gingersnaps. My paternal grandmother always kept gingersnaps in her cookie jar in the corner of her kitchen.
Not that anyone other than my sister cares, but you can see the cookie jar against the wall, behind my grandmother's arm. You can even see gingersnaps. They were supermarket gingersnaps the size of silver dollars, dark brown, very hard, incredibly good. I used to get up at night and tip-toe to the kitchen, take a handful of gingersnaps and carry them back to bed where I would eat them in the dark. Why did I feel the need to sneak the cookies? Would my grandmother have reprimanded me for eating them openly? It's possible. She was a cool, strict grandmother, not a soft one. No orange juice-shaking episodes on her watch.
|Sometimes when I can't sleep, I walk through their house in my mind.|
I love gingersnaps. They’re plain-looking cookies, spicy and direct at first bite, but then they open up, become rich, warm, complex. I used the recipe for English gingersnaps from The Essential New York Times Cookbook and baked the cookies at the upper end of the recommended time range so they would be super-hard, which they are, though not as hard as the supermarket gingersnaps Do they use some deadly industrial fat to get the cookies so hard? A chemical? Also, these cookies could use a bit more ginger. But overall? Buttery, lively, crispy, delicious.
Friday morning I put two gingersnaps in a bag in Owen’s lunchbox. Then I decided to run a little experiment and added two store-bought graham crackers, the '67 Dodge Dart of cookies.