Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ben Bakes Cookies

It's a long story, but it's a good illustration of how children learn and how adults can contribute, so I'll tell it.

Ben likes to earn money, so he often asks for extra jobs that I am willing to pay for and then squirrels his cash away.  He's been learning how to count and roll coins and how to keep a ledger recording money in and money out.

Ben set up and took this photo.  I think it means the minifigure is going to work.

When the school hosted a Scholastic book fair, he asked if he could buy a book.  I said sure, because it was his money; I prefer to shop for used books or use the library.

He picked out two books and never said a word when the volunteer told him his total was $19.  But when we got home, he was very quiet.  And later, he burst into tears:  he didn't know the prices of the books and regretted spending that much money.  He didn't know where to look on the books for the prices, nor did he ask any questions.  Poor buddy.  He was distraught.

So we made a special trip back across town the next day with one of the books and the receipt to return it, although I cautioned him that I wasn't sure if book fairs can do returns.  While we were waiting in line, the principal bopped by and started chatting up Ben.  I could see Mr. S. was impressed with Ben's depth of feeling, so he offered Ben a job to earn some money if Ben couldn't get his money back for the book.

Well, Ben did get his money back for one book and kept one book, and he was happy.  And he was overjoyed when Mr. S. said the job offer would still stand, but that Ben needed to send him a proposal and pay schedule for his services.

Ben was delighted to be treated like a wage-earning adult, and dictated an email through me to Mr. S. suggesting what he could help with (uh, that was a hard one: what can an 8-year-old help a principal with?).  I suggested "bake cookies" since Mr. S. has a legendary sweet tooth and Mr. S. said yes, indeedy, he would like a dozen cookies but to be sure Ben paid for his ingredients.

So Ben took a pencil and paper and went with me when I went grocery shopping so he could write down prices.  Then, later, I helped him break down those prices for the amounts in his Snickerdoodle recipe, and then, further, for the dozen cookies he was taking to Mr. S.

So Ben baked cookies on one of the snow days last week.  He had never baked cookies before, so we talked through the recipe, and I stayed nearby while he worked.

I took these photos to illustrate how epic the baking process was.

 I'm really not even sure how I had the tolerance and patience for this project.  Maybe it was his pride and grit that impressed me?  He's something special, that Ben.

I never took photos of the cookies!  They were good, but very dense:  we think he forgot the baking soda in all that chaos.

And then he forgot the cookies on the porch the morning he was supposed to deliver them to Mr. S., and only remembered when we were halfway to school; yes, we turned around.  I love that Ben!


  1. I think this wins the award for Most Endearing Post Ever.

    Gosh. Your Ben makes my heart melt. I'm so glad he got to return a book, and so glad he got to bake cookies, and so glad he can learn lessons in an atmosphere of tenderness and kindness.

  2. Congrats to Ben! I think he would enjoy Ralph Moody's book "Man of the Family" (as well as the rest of his books) telling the story of how he financially helped his mother after she was widowed. The books are well written, clean and full of character building moments.

  3. This is a fantastic story! And thank goodness for people like Mr. S, right? Adults who care enough to let our kids make mistakes and understand that growing up is a process are absolute gems.

  4. What a sweet tale. Learning the value of money is a big one.

  5. Aw, what a good Mama! I have very limited tolerance for baking projects with my kids because my kitchen is so stinkin' small. There's really one enough room for one to work at the counter, and my kids need a lot of supervision.

    How enterprising of Ben! Good job, Ben!! I'm really impressed that he keeps such good track of things. My nine-year old is just starting to understand how much things cost in relation to what he has, but he is always very reluctant to spend his own money on things. I buy a lot of books used on amazon (a good percentage for him!) but we've been slow to ask the kids to spend their own money on things because my other son doesn't really understand how money works yet and would be upset about the whole thing, I think. Soon enough.

    Apropos of nothing, I discovered your blog just recently (via Like Mother, Like Daughter's link to your homemaking posts) and I love it! I think we live in the same city, going by the buildings in your photos. I love your crafting and making. I sew and knit as well (English style!) and am always happy to read about other's crafting and homemaking adventures.

  6. What an amazing kid...and amazing parents for teaching him the value of money at a young age! I love this story. He has a wonderful principal too, so it seems. (It's also good the cookies weren't left on MY porch, because Phoebe...the dog :)...would have eaten them all in one bite!

  7. Such an awesome move on the principal's part! (You too, but I'm particularly impressed that the principal took so much time to invest in this one lesson for one student.)

  8. I love this story and I'm glad you took the time to write it all down. Somehow, I'm not sure why, it reminds me of a Beatrix Potter tale! Kudos to everyone - Mr. S, Ben AND you. This is a longer version of the "making the bed" lesson. It's far easier for a parent to just make the bed - but then you are stuck doing it for them forever. It's far easier for a parent to whip out the money to pay for book fair books - but for a child to learn to earn it is priceless.

  9. So much good in this tale. I'm glad it turned out well for Ben - it's a lot of lessons in one!

  10. I love this story. What a fun and natural way to learn about hard work, finances, and commitment. I agree with whoever mentioned the Little Britches series by Ralph Moody - fantastic true stories about a hard working boy and his self-sufficient family, starting on a ranch in Colorado. I think I stumbled across your blog a long time ago but lost the link until I spotted it on Like Mother, Like Daughter this week. I'm so enjoying catching up on your old posts.

  11. This 'book' taught a lot of good lessons. You must be so proud of Ben.

  12. This is such a good story. Love it.


I enjoy the conversation in the comments - thank you for that. I will answer your questions here in the comments. Please note that I don't want the world wide web to know my family's surnames and location. Generic comments with links will be treated as spam and deleted.