I quickly pour pancake batter on the griddle. Making a huge batch of pancakes to freeze for future breakfasts is the fourth item (out of twenty-five million) I have on my to do list.
As they cook, I step over to the sink and begin scrubbing the mountain of dishes that has already accumulated. (Which is fifth on the long list of chores.) When the pancakes begin to bubble I leave the sudsy pots in the sink and rush back to flip them over.
It’s a complicated dance I’m doing, this multi-tasking tango. The trick is to not let the pancakes burn while making sure to scrub every dish thoroughly.
Trinity, my ten year old daughter, wanders into the kitchen and spies me turning pancakes. “Cool! Can I help Mom?”
I hesitate for the smallest of seconds. If I’m teaching someone in the art of pancake flipping there can be no multi-tasking, no time saving dances, no quick checking off of things on the to-do list.
But if there is one thing I’ve learned as a parent, it’s that living, breathing small people trump to-do lists every single time.
“Okay honey,” I say to my daughter, handing her the spatula, “Let’s teach you how to make pancakes.”
For the next thirty minutes the dishes sit ignored in the sink while pancakes are turned haphazardly at the stove. Instead of cooking six at once, I turn my back on efficiency and leave more room on the griddle for easier flipping.
Despite having lots of room, some pancakes still don’t quite make it onto the griddle while being turned.
“That’s okay babe,” I say as I bend over and scoop a half cooked pancake off the floor. I mentally add ‘mop the kitchen’ to my list of things to do. “Next time don’t raise the pancake up so high, while you’re turning it. Keep it lower to the griddle where you’ll have more control.”
By the time all the batter is used up, the stove top and counter are a mess and I’m in dire need of a shower, but Trinity has made dozens of small pancakes. She excitedly shows off her handiwork to her brother and sister and they feast on orange poppyseed pancakes for lunch.
Some days the best use of your time is to squander it with people you love. I wonder why it’s taken me a decade to really learn that lesson.