Parent Moments: Making Toast With My Precious
"When it goes 'DING!' then it's done," I explained to my 4-year-old daughter as we hovered over our deluxe new toaster oven. "Whatever's inside will be all ready to eat."
It seemed a simple enough explanation which I think she understood. In fact, I'm pretty certain it was locked in her sponge-like brain. Her hands were still in mid-air and she was wearing my favorite pair of hot mitts like a surgeon heading into the O.R.
It's the little things that excite me and what I tend to, you know, dwell on -- not unlike the creature Gollum from "The Lord of the Rings" movies, a tortured, piteous thing driven mad by a magic ring, which he calls his "precious." I already have a ring. My "precious," my obsession, is my new toaster oven, and oh, oh how I love it! And unlike Gollum's ring, it comes complete with a limited-time warranty.
It took me nearly 15 years of searching (not to mention about a dozen broken elements and a few minor burns) but I finally found the perfect home appliance. This multi-functional compadre could toast, bake, broil, and keep food warm -- with removable and reversible chrome-plated cooking racks, baking pan, and broiler insert -- all inside a non-stick interior, complete with auto-advance rack for easy and safe removal of cooked foods. Now that's what I call magic.
So I packed up the kids for another journey into the realm where such things are possible, a realm filled with wonders and challenges, a suburban version of Middle Earth, if you will: Costco! But this time we weren't going solely for food.
I'd had my eye on one particular model for a very long time, and I had already given up my conventional toaster to my parents. Good thing I was able to convince the darkest of all lords, the hubs, that this was absolutely necessary. (Note to other toaster-oven devotees: do this before you give away the conventional one.)
On the big day I brought it home my daughter and I were waiting for my husband to return. When he did he closed the front door and loosened his tie.
"We had dinner at Costco and Mommy got herself a new ah-ben!," cried our daughter.
"A new what?" he said, half-amused, half-wary. "What did you buy?"
I smiled nervously, somehow unable to speak. My husband slowly walked past me and into the kitchen, where he saw that I was making one of his favorite meals. He looked back at me, now even more suspicious. Still tongue-tied, I pointed toward my "precious" ... and he breathed a huge sigh of relief. "Oh boy!," he said, a big grin spreading across his face. I followed his sigh with one of my own.
I put the toast in the oven and my daughter and I waited for the fun to begin.
"Moooooommmmmmeeeeeee! It's weeeeeeeeedddddddyyyyyyy!"
Our first DING! You could feel the excitement echoing through the house. To call it "giddy" would have been an understatement. I grabbed my daughter's oven-mitted hand and we skipped into the kitchen ready to retrieve our perfectly done toast.
"Ewwww, what's dat?"
She was talking about the stink, but I didn't even notice because I'd already seen the smoke puffing out the back of my precious new toaster oven. As I lunged for it the high-pitched smoke alarm went off -- BLEEP-BLEEP-BLEEP! -- causing the family dog to panic and go skittering through the house, in the process overturning the 18 piles of laundry I'd recently folded. Between all the bleeping and barking I got a sense of what Gollum had to go through to search for his precious.
Shocked into action, I swiped the mitts from my daughter's hands, smacked at the front of the toaster and threw out a few mommy curses for good measure. I cranked the windows, grabbed the glowing pieces of toast with a pair of tongs, threw them out the front door and slowly walked back into the kitchen.
"I'm sorry Mommy." My daughter's eyes began to tear as I scratched at a stress-induced rash.
"Mommies and daddies sometimes have to learn about new things, too."
"Yeah, wike about da ding?"
"That's right, like the ding. We should always check the toaster before the ding."
"No...when it starts to smoke and da awarm goes beep...mommy's pra-la-bee done it!"
An entire package of Wonder Bread later, it dawned on me that it's not such a bad idea to let my children see just what it takes to master the art of making toast, with my precious, BEFORE I assure them that "da ding" is all it takes.