I was at work when the text came through.

“Emergency!” it read.

My daughter was home alone.

“I need ...”

Before the rest of the message chimed in, I was calling the house.

“... cocoa powder.”

I hung up the phone. Then I picked it back up.

“Cocoa powder is not an emergency!” I whisper hissed into the receiver while maintaining a friendly smile. I pushed some papers around the desk to make it look like whatever I was doing, it was absolutely not lecturing my almost teenage daughter about the fourth item down on her cake recipe.

It’s my own fault. I am, after all, the one who introduced her so many years back to the magic of putting batter in a buttered pan.

Handicrafts were not my thing. I couldn’t teach the kid how to crochet. Or punch leather. Or braid a rug. But I could show her how to scoop flour into a cup. And how to turn a spoon around a bowl.

“I can’t finish one of my cakes because I ran out of cocoa powder,” she said, in an effort to help her dim-witted mother grasp the full gravity of the situation.

“Cakes plural? How many are you making?”

“Just two. Well, actually, it is one cake on top of another. One is chocolate chip, the other is ...”

“Honey, I ...” I said, trying to cut in.

But she had me captive and I just had to ride it out.

“And buttercream frosting and the filling ...”

She turns 13 in two weeks. I suppose I should be happy she still likes talking to me. Everyone keeps telling me once she turns into a “teenager” (always said with a cringe), her eyes will roll back into her head, she will begin spitting venom and she will speak only in grunts, sneers and shrugs.

Kind of scary to anticipate such a thing. It is like waiting for the full moon with someone recently mauled by a werewolf.

Oh, I remember our early baking days.

“Help you,” she would say in her little voice, more threat than inquiry.

Then would come the scraping sound as the kitchen chair slid across the floor, pinning me between it and the counter.

I don’t have to pick out the egg shells for her anymore. Or explain the difference between baking soda and baking powder (one comes in a square box, one doesn’t).

I know the years ahead won’t always be easy, but I will savor the sweetness whenever I can.

Like that cake.

It was absolutely delicious.

Martha Petteys writes a weekly column for The Post-Star. Write to her at petteyshome@gmail.com or visit her on Facebook.


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