Koopa and his cookies

Maybe everything in life has its purpose and its role in the great scheme of things? Maybe it can even be true of a disastrous baking experience? Turns out it can.
We made those gingerbread cookies just in time for my departmental holiday potluck party that welcomed spouses and children. I told it to Gnomik beforehand, that we were making them to share them with people, but I didn’t know that he took me seriously. The evening of the party everyone in our family was so tired and unmotivated that we almost didn’t go. We only went thanks to Koopa’s enthusiasm (“Lets go! We were gonna share our cookies, remember?”). Sure, lets go. I still didn’t know he was serious in his intentions.

So we go to the party, and we eat and drink, as intended. And here comes dessert time. Koopa approaches me and says quietly, “Mama, lets share our cookies”. Our cookies are already out for everybody to appreciate, along with other dessert-y things. But Koopa is concerned they’re being overshadowed by canolli and a chocolate cheesecake (a reasonable concern, I’m surely eating the canolli). So he runs to the table, brings one cookie, approaches me and asks very very quietly “Mama, do you think Glyne will like our cookie?” (“Мама, ты думаешь Глину понравится?”). I say yeah, yeah, sure, go share it with him. But he is unsure and pulls me by the hand, “Let’s go together” (“Пошли вместе”). But I say no, you can do it yourself, I’m sure he will like it. So he gathers up all his courage and offers the cookie to Glyne. Glyne thanks him and makes satisfied sounds while eating the cookie. That’s encouraging. Inspired by this initial success, Koopa runs and brings another cookie, and offers it to Glyne again. Glyne is a safe bet. If he liked the first cookie, chances are he will like the second one (they’re all the same after all). This turns out to be true. Cookie number three has less success with Glyne, which means you gotta try someone else now, and that’s a whole new challenge. Koopa approaches me with another cookie and the same question as the first time: “Mama, do you think Kevin will like my cookie?” (“Мама, ты думаешь Кевину понравится?”). And the most touching part of it is that I can see that this is a real question for him, his voice is shaking a little bit as his asks that. What if the person won’t like this cookie that you put so much effort into? What if he doesn’t like cookies at all and you end up offering one to him? I reassure Koopa that Kevin is more than likely to like cookies and encourage him to go share it with him. Gnomik looks carefully in Kevin’s direction, “But he’s talking to someone!” (“Но он разговаривает!”). “That’s ok, go give him the cookie, he’ll notice you.” I try to sound encouraging but I’m also worried (Kevin better like cookies. Don’t let my child down, Kevin). After the second sharing attempt it got easier. After the third one, Koopa took the whole container and was running around the house, making sure everybody got some of his cookies. That was probably the most heartwarming sight I ever had to witness: Koopa running around the room with a container of cookies, making sure everyone gets some, being all proud of himself because he made them! And I had no idea that those cookies were so important to him! I thought he only cared about making snowmen out of baking soda. And I was really happy that people took him seriously: everybody thanked him, and if they didn’t want a cookie #3, he didn’t get upset. When we were leaving, everyone thanked him again for his wonderful cookies. I nearly cried.

So maybe everything in life does have a purpose? If we hadn’t baked those cookies, I would never have seen that Koopa: brave, generous, and sensitive. So the role of that traumatic baking experience was to show me that, as well as to teach Koopa that he can be brave and share his creations, and that people usually appreciate it when you share cookies with them even if some of them can’t handle more than three at a time.

About Tanya Mozias Slavin

Tanya Mozias Slavin is a writer, linguist and a mother of two. She was born in Russia, grew up in Israel and has lived in Canada and the US, where she worked on Oji-Cree, an endangered aboriginal language of Canada. She now lives in the UK and writes about parenting, languages, multiculturalism, and everything in between. Her essays and articles have appeared in Washington Post, Brain, Child, The Forward, Scary Mommy and other places.
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