Noah started the second grade this week, and just a few nights ago he was lying on the stairs telling me story after story, laughing and giving me every detail. As he talked, it was as if the room fell quiet and all I could see was this hilarious young man, all of seven years-old, who is determined and funny and knows exactly what he wants. I could no longer hear his funny story, I could only see who he is becoming. Suddenly this peace fell over me. I knew in that moment that he is going to be okay.
I think the biggest thing my husband and I talk about in regards to parenting is how badly we want to halt every tough thing from coming into our children’s lives. We don’t want the heartache, the dilemmas, the losses, the uppercuts to the chin to ever touch them because we love them so fiercely. Truth is, we can’t keep the world from them; we can only show them how to navigate it to the best of our abilities and let them know they always have a place to land in us.
This kid is going to change the world because he’s got such drive at the age of seven. Drive coupled with wonder and frustration over wanting all things to be just right. He is the kid who’s not afraid of the unknown. He meets it head on and figures it out as he goes.
Yesterday he asked to go inside the gas station to check Slurpie flavors out. The helicopter mom in me wanted to scream, “No! You can’t walk into the gas station alone!” But I was in the closest stall and could watch him walk the ten feet as I pumped the gas. He walked away from me, giddy because he was on his own. I watched through the glass as he surveyed the flavors. I headed in when I finished and this kid had pep in his step. He was thrilled I trusted him enough to walk in. We educate him probably too much that every stranger is likely a kidnapper, so he often begs to have his pocket knife on him at all times… We do drills, saying things like, “Hey, kid, I know your parents! Come with me.” And he’s like, “Then I scream and run and make more noise than I’ve ever made and poke them in the eyes or groin if they get too close!”
Yup, that’s my family: “stranger danger” drills and good quality street smarts. Truth is, that’s all we can do. Cover these kids-turning-into-people in prayer and move through the day. Try to teach them right from wrong. And in that, God is turning Noah into quite the young man.
So, in the spirit of ruminating on the journey of childhood, I give you these RIDICULOUS cookies. These cookies are my childhood on a plate. When I think of growing up, these were a constant. When I wrote Generations we paid homage to these cookies and my Gramma Mac for sending my Dad cookies as he grew up, wherever he happened to be in the world at the time. They represent safety and love and nostalgia. Who knew you could layer all that into a cookie recipe. I made these for Noah on his first day of school because I needed to eat these cookies while I processed how fast he’s growing. I needed to let my soul know that’s it’s okay to let go and let him make his way. I wanted him to know that I love him and he’s going to be juuuuust fine. Growing pains and all. No matter how bad I mess up he’s going to thrive because God is faithful.
If you have some sweet kiddos growing up right now, I pray that you are able to see the forest through the trees. Maybe you need a cookie break. You are doing wildly exceptional at this motherhood thing. Just look at your baby while they tell you their thoughts on life. Be sure you are listening to their thoughts. If they don’t tell you their stories just be available for them. It matters to that tiny person. So with that, I bid farewell to August, with its sweltering days and Popsicle-stained lips, sun-kissed cheeks, and sleeping in the clothes we played hard in all day. We are ready for the wild comfort and rest as the earth goes the sleep, ready to take on the world.
Sugar Cookie Dough
1 cup soft butter
2 Tbsp. soft cream cheese
1½ cups powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. almond extract
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup soft butter
1 tsp. almond extract
Pinch of salt
8 oz. soft cream cheese
4-6 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, add cream, butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes; add egg, vanilla bean, salt, and almond extract; mix well. Add flour and cream of tartar, and mix by hand until it just comes together. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes, but overnight is best. When you are ready to bake, line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into a ¼-inch-thick rough circle, and use your favorite cookie cutter to cut out shapes; place them on baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until set. Continue this process until you’ve used up all the dough. Cool cookies on sheets of foil, and frost once completely cool. These cookies are fine to eat right away, but I think they get their signature touch frosted and left out overnight. We don’t put them away until the next morning.
To make the frosting, simply cream butter, almond extract, salt, and cream cheese until light and fluffy; slowly add powdered sugar. I like mine less sweet, so we do 4 cups of powdered sugar, but you can use up to 6 cups. Feel free to color small bowls of the frosting, and decorate cookies with sprinkles or tiny candies.