There is a very special man in my life whom I never talk about. His name (for the purposes of this blog) is Michael. Michael is the son of some really close friends of the family. His mom is the sister I always had and never wanted. (Seriously, I feel the same about her as I do my sister that I grew up with.) For the purposes of this blog we'll call her Michelle. (The reason for fake names is that she's extremely paranoid about the internet and doesn't want me to use real names. This paranoia is also why you'll never see pictures of this part of my family.)
Michelle has 2 older children from a previous marriage, both of whom I'm allowed to talk about all I want. (They're old enough to make that decision for themselves and they don't have that paranoia.) Michael was a late(r) in life surprise. Michelle's the boyfriend (now husband) had been told that he was unable to father children, so imagine their surprise when they got the news. So now her kids are 19, 17 (18 in November) and 3. Although I love all 3 children, Michael has a special place in my heart.
The day that Michael was born I went to the hospital and sat there and held him for about 3 hours. Ever since that day that child has had me wrapped around his little finger, and he knows it. If Michael wants a treat he'll come ask me. If he wants somebody to play with, I'm the one he looks for. There was a new couple at our church that confided in me that they'd been attending the church for a few weeks before they figured out that Michael's not my son. In fact, they only figured it out when they heard him call me "Uncle Jamie". (Don't ask, he's a little confused about titles, but I think it's cute.)
A couple days ago my mom was talking to Michelle on the phone, so I had her ask if Michael could come play. I had been missing him and I thought that Michelle could use the break. When Michael got here I was in the process of making soup for my mom, so he had me put him in his spot, and he helped me cook. (Michael and I have been cooking together since he was 1.) He put the carrots in the soup, and helped me stir. At one point he looked at me and started asking for something, but I couldn't understand him. I took him into the living room and had him repeat it to his mom, but she didn't have a clue either. Finally my mom told me that he wanted the garlic. Michelle was amazed that he even knew what garlic was, since she doesn't let him cook at home. (Quick tip: put an appropriate amount of spice into a small bowl and let the kid dump that in. About a year ago I had some eggs that taught me that lesson in a way that I'll never forget.)
Pretty soon we were done making soup, but we weren't ready to be done cooking. So I grabbed a cake mix out of the cupboard and we baked a cake together. Cakes mixes are great at his age because they go together quick, but you still get to crack eggs. (Just a tip: crack the egg into a separate bowl, that way it's easier to pick the shell out.) Michael surprised me with his egg cracking expertise, there was no shell to pick out. We took turns mixing the batter, but I couldn't convince the boy to try licking the spoon. Strange child.
Once the cake was in the oven Michael was ready to play for a while. He wanted to go out back, but needed an adult to go with him. Because Michael's developed a habit of referring to himself in the first person we've been making a point of trying to get him to use the word I. So when he came to me and said, "Michael needs to play outside." I told him to say, "I need to play outside. That's when the child gave me a funny look and said, "Uncle Jamie needs to play outside." I gave up and just went out back with him. On the way he stopped and kicked his mom out of the house. He definitely does not have separation anxiety issues.
We got done playing in the backyard just in time to pull the cake out of the oven. That's when Micchael decided to go visit Uncle Moo-Moo (Donny). Out to the garage he went, where he climbed up in my chair and settled in for a visit with his uncle. Of course Donny immediately switched the Tv over to cartoons for the kid, and then started looking for the candy that I had told him earlier not to give to Michael. (By this time we'd already had a popsicle, since he knows that I always have some in my freezer for him.)
When Michael finally got done visiting with Uncle Moo-Moo he decided that he wanted to cook some more. Since we had made a lemon cake earlier, I decided that a lemon icing would be a good thing. I put Michael up on the counter and grabbed a bag of powdered sugar. I turned to grab the milk, and when I turned back to where Michael was, he had poured powdered sugar in a frying pan that was sitting on the stove. That would have been a lot less messy if there hadn't been a thin layer of oil on the bottom of the pan. So we got the icing started, and I realized that I needed more powdered sugar. This wasn't a problem, since my grandma keeps a big plastic tub of it on the buffet. There's also a big plastic tub of flour over there, so when I opened the tub up I tasted the contents to be sure that I had the right thing. Michael saw this and asked if he could taste too. Since I knew he would be going home soon I saw no harm in this and let him. I then got him a small measuring cup and got him busy scooping sugar into the bowl for me. He also got a lesson in how to work a Kitchen Aid mixer. (The first lesson being never, ever stick your hand in the bowl.) Of course, by the end of our icing making he had given up all pretense of putting sugar in the bowl, and was simply sitting there eating straight powdered sugar and telling me how good it was.
We iced the cake, something else that I realized he had never done before. I had handed him the knife (a butterknife) so that he could do it before I learned this important tidbit. He got a lesson in why using the knife to gouge out chunks of cake is not the accepted norm for icing a cake. It was my turn to do the icing again when I had to teach him why randomely sticking your fingers into the cake to make holes also is not the accepted norm for icing a cake.
When Michelle came to pick Michael up she got a wired little boy and a cake for their dessert that night. We had a ball.