The Sugar Cookie Baby-sitter
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“The Sugar Cookie Baby-sitter,” New Era, Apr. 1986, 34

My Family:
The Sugar Cookie Baby-sitter

Our favorite baby-sitter always made sugar cookies for us, and he always let us help.

With the agility and energy of a six-year-old, I climbed to the stool and perched myself expectantly at the kitchen counter beside my four-year old sister, Kristy. This was the moment we had been waiting for all evening. In bright-eyed anticipation, I tossed back my long, sun-bleached curls and looked over at Kristy, giving her a knowing, dimpled grin. With her thick, brown pigtails and soft, brown eyes that were as big as pennies, she looked at me and burst into a stream of excited giggles.

You see, Mom was gone to a meeting, and we were fortunate enough to have our favorite baby-sitter—the Sugar Cookie Baby-sitter. Some baby-sitters just watch TV or talk on the phone the whole time; others are mean and bop you if you spill your soup. Some baby-sitters are nice enough to read you stories and play games with you. Some will even let you stay up late past your bedtime. But the best kind of baby-sitter is the kind that bakes you cookies. Our baby-sitter made us sugar cookies, and he always let us help. He was our dad.

So it was with a great deal of enthusiasm that we peered over the counter as Dad assembled the necessary ingredients and equipment. Making the dough was a team effort. Dad was in charge of measuring, and Kristy and I took turns dumping and pouring. As it came time to add the eggs, Dad took over. This was a job requiring a lot of talent, so we were told. With reverent awe, Kristy and I watched as Dad’s large, skillful hands precisely cracked each egg with a tremendous “whack” on the edge of the bowl and carefully pulled the shell apart as the liquid oozed out, cascading into the bowl with splendid ease. Stirring the dough with great vigor was also a job for Dad.

Kristy and I watched with eager intent as the dough was mixed. Finally it was time for the most important part—“testing” the dough. The ritual began with Dad eating a heaping spoonful of the soft, white dough. This first test was never quite accurate enough, so he would ask for second and third opinions. This is where we could help, and we completed our task with expert competence. The ritual was repeated several times, each taste followed by an “ooh” or an “ah.”

After the dough had successfully passed all the tests, Dad rolled it out and we helped him cut it into circles for baking. The problem came when we had only one cookie cutter. Since this was a team effort, something had to be done; and Dad was creative and resourceful. Bright-colored aluminum drinking cups became elegant and stylish cookie cutters. Putting the circles of dough onto the cookie sheet and sprinkling them with sugar was a job which was given exclusively to Kristy and me. Of course Dad pretended not to notice when some of the circles never quite made it to the cookie sheet.

While the surviving cookies baked, Kristy and I raced to get ready for bed and climbed onto Dad’s lap for stories. The stories were followed by “horseback” rides and eating warm cookies. Then off to bed we went, content with the evening’s festivities.

Such are my memories of my Sugar Cookie Baby-sitter. It was several years later, as a college student, that I became aware of the sacrifice my father had made to spend that time with his two little girls. Along with working full-time, he was going to school at the university. Instead of doing his homework in the evenings, he would spend that time with us. Mom tells of scolding him when she came home after meetings and found him just beginning his school assignments. He often had to stay up until the early hours of the morning to finish them. Parents make a lot of sacrifices for their children. As a recipient of those sacrifices, I will always be grateful for those sugar cookie nights and times spent with my dad.

Illustrated by Richard Brown