Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Helping Hand Creates a Pancake Genius

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Helping Hand Creates a Pancake Genius

Article excerpt

"Sure you can," Liam insisted. "Come on. Anyone can." My grandson handed me the pancake flipper. I put it back in the drawer.

"How about scrambled eggs?" I said. "Or polenta?"

Liam opened the drawer. He pulled out the spatula again.

"I told you," I said. "I am not a pancakemaker. Your mom is. Grampie is. But I can't make pancakes. Seriously."

"Have you ever even tried?" he asked.

"I did try. Well, once. But it was such a big mess, no one could eat it."

Liam blinked at me. "Once? You tried just once?"

I shrugged. "It was a disaster, Liam. I'm telling you."

I was staying with Liam while his parents were off on a little trip, and we were negotiating food issues. For example, the polenta. Liam had been aghast that I'd served him yellow polenta instead of white. He wanted only Parmesan cheese on his cheese sandwich, not cheddar. He liked his cold cereal without milk, thank you very much.

Now I opened the refrigerator. "How about a smoothie?"

"Once is just practice," Liam said in his most reasonable voice. "Trying something once barely counts. You'll never know until you do it at least one more time."

Well, it was impossible to argue with that bit of wisdom straight from the mouth of a 7-year-old. What was I going to say: "Persistence is nothing in this world, Kid. Give up early and give up often"?

I sighed and said, "OK, I'll try."

Liam handed me the spatula. He pulled a cookbook off the shelf and flipped it open. "Here's the recipe Mom uses," he said. "You can do it, Gran. I know you can."

Right. I remembered the smeared batter and the blackened edges of my one and only batch. I shuddered.

"I'll get the syrup out," he added.

"OK, you little optimist, you," I muttered as I set to work with flour, eggs, milk, and butter.

"That looks good," Liam said, peering into the bowl of batter. "Perfect."

"Let's see how the cooking goes," I said quietly. I didn't want to tell him that deciding when to flip the pancakes had been my Waterloo on the previous try.

Not wanting to sound as negative as I felt because of that whole role-model issue, I added, "We'll give it our best try, right?"

"That's the spirit, Gran!"

With my cheering section watching, I ladled the batter onto the hot griddle. I read, yet again, the part of the recipe about waiting until the bubbles break and turn dry before flipping the pancakes. I looked at the pancakes and then back to the recipe.

"It's time," I said. Feeling as graceful as a hippo at a tea party, I advanced on the bubble-edged pancakes.

"You can do it," Liam said. "I know you can."

And ... I did. Shocked and amazed, I soon piled fluffy, golden pancakes on Liam's waiting plate. He buttered them, drizzled on syrup, and then bit into one.

A slow smile spread across his face. "These are the best pancakes I've ever had," he declared. …

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