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Thank you, Betty Crocker

The Puddinpop had one of those days, the kind your momma warned you about. He started this morning off with a healthy dose of poor attitude, which sometimes just happens when you’re seven years old and the oldest kid in the family. I have no doubt all the eldest children in the world know exactly what I mean when I say that sometimes the burden of having to constantly put up with younger siblings is just more than one can bear. I know for certain that my older brother had his days.

Rumor has it I might have even been somewhat responsible. But I don’t see how that could be the case. 😉

At any rate, the general lack of a positive attitude towards others obviously got the ‘Pop into trouble with the missus. After the Puddinette set him straight, she took the kids out for a lovely family picnic lunch at the park where everyone was pleasant as punch. Unfortunately, lunch picnics can’t last forever, and eventually there was more trouble on the home front, this time taking the form of a bickering conflict with the Mini-Puddinette.

By the way, I cannot stand bickering. Having a legitimate disagreement with a sibling is one thing. But the bickering that’s inevitable in a family of this size just makes my skin itch from the bottom up.

Anyway, eventually the conflict was resolved and attitudes improved. Just before I got home for dinner, though, disaster struck! One of the roughly 16,000 Silly Bandz residing somewhere in my house – a brand-new, “tie-dyed” affair – snapped, broken clean through.

As can only be expected, my son was absolutely despondent over the loss of that shaped rubber band that likely cost all of ten pennies. I mean, come on, it was tie-dyed!

Kidding aside, the poor kid was so upset over it that he didn’t want to finish his dinner, knowingly giving up the opportunity for dessert. Luckily, I remember childhood well enough to recall exactly the pain and disappointment over losing something that means so much to you and so little to others.

I let him mope around the house for awhile while I cleaned up the post-dinner kitchen mess. Sometime later, I went to the basement and found him sitting alone with the TV on, but not really watching it.

I asked him if he was alright.

He said he wasn’t really.

I asked if there was anything I could do.

He said not unless I could fix the band.

Well, you can’t fix a broken Silly Band, not without making it lame. And I probably wouldn’t have tried to fix it if I could. Sooner or later, you have to learn to cope with broken things.

So I told him I couldn’t fix it, and he said he figured. Then I asked him if he wanted to help me make brownies. He didn’t respond with the gleeful delight usually associated with the thought of brownies, but instead said simply, “Yeah, I guess,” and shuffled up to the kitchen to help me.

One box of brownie mix, 2 eggs (well, 3; you always drop one when making pick-me-up-brownies), a little water and a little oil later, the Puddinpop and I stirred some batter together while discussing the origin of cocoa (because that’s what he and I do). He poured it into the pan by himself.

He was fine for the rest of the night, which included some heartfelt laughter and horsing around with his siblings. And just before bed, the brownies were cool enough for everyone to have one with a small glass of milk.

After he ate his – the biggest one, of course – he thanked me for making brownies, and I could tell by the way he said it that he meant more than just the brownies. It was that way you tell your dad things without having to actually say it, and it was the first time I’d ever been the Dad for it.

Then I sent him to bed, grateful for Betty Crocker.

You’ll never be able to deal with life if you don’t sometime in your childhood learn to deal with broken toys, and things that get broken when you’re older are usually a lot more serious than Silly Bandz. I’m sure the Puddinpop has a long way to go in learning how to really cope with disappointment and loss, especially because he’s already an unyielding perfectionist. But it did my heart good tonight to soothe his hurt feelings over a bowl of brownie batter and a little small talk.

I might not have been able to fix that rubber band, but with Betty’s help I think I fixed something more than that, at least a little.


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