With my eldest in school now, I have a lot more quality one-on-one time with my pre-schooler. It’s been really nice. One of the things we’ve always liked to do together is cook. Lately we are into baking because honestly, who doesn’t like treats? (My waistline doesn’t like treats, that’s who.)
The other day we oped for Rice Krispie squares because they’re easy and, let’s be honest, it’s not that messy and I like that part about it.
I pulled a wooden spoon out of the drawer to mix the melted marshmallows and vanilla and butter up and promptly stuck it into our concoction only to find a face looking up at me from beyond the marshmallows and my daughter yelling at me to stop.
Perplexed, I pulled the spoon out of the bowl and immediately regretted my choice of utensils.
I am a child of the ’80s. Things were different then. We played outside way more, went through the drive-thru way less and, for many of us, our parents were quite a bit more strict than many of us parents are today. That’s my reality anyway. Back in the day, the strictness came in all types of forms. Even spanking wasn’t as controversial as it is now.
The last time my mom was in town she told my kids the story of Mr. Tears.
Mr. Tears was a larger-than-life plastic spoon with the imprint of a crying face on the spoon part. I’m not even kidding you. I don’t know where on earth she got it but I knew it lived in the drawer under the microwave and I knew if Mr. Tears came out, we were in big trouble.
I don’t recall getting smacked on the behind too much with Mr. Tears. I think my mom used it as a threat more than anything else. I do remember once stuffing a book down my pants and then daring my mom to smack my butt. She did. From then on Mr. Tears had a scar from where the plastic spoon bent over the book edge. (I also remember my mom chasing me around the house in an attempt to spank me but I went up and over my bed faster than her and my heel clipped her in the face, breaking her nose. Needless to say, I feel like I won that battle. Sorry Mom.)
Back to cooking with my kid. I had already plunged my wooden spoon into the marshmallow mixture when I saw it. A crying face on the spoon part of the spoon.
“Mom!” shouted my threenager. “Mr. Tears is for smacking butts not cooking with!” She was mortified I even dared to use it for cooking, though in my defence I was not aware my spoon had a face. My mom had drawn it on when she was telling the kids the story, I guess.
I pulled the spoon out and washed it and gave it to my daughter. She hugged it, relieved it survived the near-drowning in marshmallows.
So relieved in fact, that she brought it with us to school when it was time to pick up my son from Kindergarten. I had asked her not to. I mean, what would the other parents think if she told them it was “Mr. Tears, our spanking spoon and not our cooking spoon”? How would I even handle that? She wouldn’t do that, I told myself. She wouldn’t do that.
Of course that’s exactly what she did as she introduced the parents to Mr. Tears.
My face flushed, and I tried to explain about my mom and her telling my kids the story and the drawing on the spoon but a funny thing happened. Instead of being horrified at the idea of Mr. Tears, the other parents laughed and recalled their similar childhoods. Disaster averted.
I learned two interesting lessons that day. First, even things that embarrass us have the power to unite us. And second, I also learned how many wooden spoons were not being used for cooking back in the day.