Tiny tapping. Tap. Tap. Tap. Unless you watched, you’d never know that the tiny cook is breaking an egg. How does a toddler learn to bake? By helping Daddy whip up the pancakes. First the flour, then the milk. The sugar and the baking powder, and then a dash of vanilla. No problem for even the littlest of helpers, even when not all of the flour gets in the bowl. And more sugar if Daddy isn’t watching. Here’s a spoon and here’s the jar. “Just one” is such a relative phrase.
But it’s the egg that separates the big girls. Can she do it herself? Tap. Tap. Tap. A crack and a quick fissure. Tiny fingers pull the shell apart without getting any in. The yolk, the whites and a giant grin. She is grown up and feels adult. She learned this on her own.
Confidence beams. Today it’s quick. TAP! Oh no! The yoke and whites are followed by a flock of fragments. But Daddy smiles. It’s OK, honey, we all do that.
How quickly the world changes. Exuberance in check and caution rules. tap. tap. tap. tap. No cracks, no fissures for today we’re afraid and want a real adult to take over. But Daddy doesn’t, it’s just an egg. And a young child will learn a lasting lesson. It’s OK to make mistakes. To hit too hard or too soft. To look and see if what you’re doing is right or wrong. To learn to push ahead or pull back.
For the father was never given the luxury of this lesson until the odd were too high. It would have been better to learn to total the trike than the truck, to waste an egg than a job. Daddy grew up in a mine field, where blind steps would blow up. Where simple choices carried threats of death.
But not Beta-chan. She’s just three and is only given what tiny fingers may drop so she can learn care, tiny taps at a time.
Tap. Tap. Tap. A crack and a quick fissure. Tiny fingers pull the shell apart without getting any in. The yolk, the whites and a giant grin. She is grown up and feels adult. She learned how to regain confidence on her own. A lesson for a lifetime.