By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
Do not enter this kitchen.
It all started when I decided to quadruple a cookie recipe to feed my four sons. Their eyes shone from across the countertop like full moons cresting an alien horizon.
I wiped down the countertop; it was the only furniture keeping them from mauling me.
“Can I lick the spoon?” asked my firstborn son.
I looked at the wooden spoon. “But – this only has butter on it.”
He grinned and nodded.
I shook my head and dumped in all the brown sugar we’d been saving for the apocalypse.
“Now can I lick the spoon?” Firstborn asked.
“It’s not even dough until it has flour in it,” I said.
My middle child thought this was a great time to sneak into the pantry, shinny up the shelves and cram some Doritos into his mouth.
“OWWWW!” wailed Middleborn from inside the pantry.
I rushed to him. “What, sweetie? What hurt you?”
“I cut myself!”
“On what?” A misplaced knife? Some fishing gear? A stray nail?
So this is how it ends. When Child Protective Services comes to take my children, they’ll say “Sorry, Mrs. McFarland, but this is our third deadly-chip alert from this location.”
I dusted Middleborn’s face off and shooed him out from my pantry. Then I cracked eggs.
“Oooh, can I crack an egg?” asked the big, sweet twin.
Big-Sweet tapped the egg lightly on the countertop. Nothing happened. He tapped it a little harder. Nothing happened, so he smashed it onto the countertop, grimaced at his yolky fingers and flapped his hand so fast it blurred in the air, flinging egg on the ceiling and walls.
I smothered his eggy little hand with a dishrag and tidied up the mess.
“Mom, are you stressed?” asked Middleborn.
“Not at all,” answered I, through gritted teeth.
“You’re breathing heavy,” he said.
“Can I crack another egg?” asked Big-Sweet.
“No, thank you.”
“But I’m an expert at it.”
“That’s nice, dear.”
The little, feisty twin zoomed into the kitchen on a hoverboard from absolutely nowhere, yelling “Yeeeehawww!”
Big-Sweet sighed. “He thinks he’s a Tex-edo.”
I raised an eyebrow. “A tuxedo?”
“A TEXedo.” Big-Sweet rolled his eyes. “A guy from Texas.”
Ohhhh. “We all think we’re from Texas, because here in Wyoming, many of our ancestors were Texas cow-herders who – “
“I’M more of a Texedo than HE is,” said Big-Sweet.
Little-Feisty careened through the kitchen again. His brothers whipped him with dish towels, so he yelled “GET BACK OR I’LL SHOOT!”
From his hip, Little-Feisty drew a ketchup pistol.
See, a few years ago The Husband bought a plastic pistol, with a trigger, designed to shoot ketchup. The Husband thinks stuff like this will end well.
“Get BACK I said!” bellowed Little-Feisty.
I used my de-escalation voice. “Buddy…. You don’t have to shoot that.”
The air stiffened in a tense silence.
Middleborn lunged. Little-Feisty fired!
Some clear runny fluid shot from the gun, and it took me a full three seconds to realize it was only water, because I was expecting battery acid or homemade sauerkraut.
“That’s IT!” I shouted. “Everyone get OUT of my kitchen.”
Their eyes widened.
“But… why Mom?” asked Big-Sweet.
“Because she wants to be alone while she listens to yodel music, DUH,” said Middleborn.
“Nuh-UH,” argued Firstborn. “It’s because she’s gonna eat the butter when we’re not looking.”
“Hey Mom,” said Big-Sweet. “Can I crack another egg?”
My powers of speech left me. “Go – not – kitchen.”
The boys looked at each other in confusion and horror, wondering which of them had written down the CPS phone number.
“You – kitchen out,” I continued. “Mom make cookie lone self.”
They backed away slowly. Little-Feisty laid the pistol on the countertop with its barrel pointed at the wall, opened his hand wide and raised it from the pistol grip in hushed surrender.
Ten minutes later, I pulled a dozen cookies from the oven and invited all four boys back into my kitchen for a treat.
Even though they’re Texedos.