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Keep fire extinguisher handy while they're learning life lessons

I must be a bad mother because clearly there is still so much to teach these children, yet the window is closing as we speak.

So the other night two teenage girls came to my house loaded down with grocery bags and the goal of baking sweets for their boyfriends for Valentine's Day. It was late and I was already in bed, but my razor-sharp motherly instincts told me to get up and go check on them.

I walked in on a bit of a mess, and they were just getting started. One girl was peering at a cake mix box, wondering out loud where we keep our eggs.

That was my first clue that I needed to pay attention, despite my daughter's protests that they were fine. I HAVE this, Mom.

While I was there, we talked the merits of unsalted butter vs. salted butter (ALWAYS unsalted in baking). I helped grab a few things from the top shelf for the short girls and just hung back and watched them in action. That's when I saw my girl put a tablespoon of salt in her cookie dough, and start to measure out a tablespoon of baking powder.

Then came the informational discussion of capital "T" versus small "t," and that "B" is a helpful hint, too, in differentiating between a tablespoon and a teaspoon. Not to be discouraged, she dug out as much salt as possible and pressed on.

I listened as they wondered what constituted "softened" butter, something I might have thought to be a no-brainer, but apparently required a bit of thought. I jumped in and said I usually put the butter in a bowl and microwave it for about 15 seconds.

So that sweet, innocent child threw a wrapped stick of butter in one of my stainless steel bowls, put it in the microwave and turned it on.

Now, these girls are at the top of their class academically. They'll soon go off to college, graduate and move on to do great things in life. I'm talking cures for cancer, running Fortune 500 companies and, presumably, getting married and having babies of their own. Somehow, whether by osmosis or the grace of God, surely common sense will bubble up to the surface and apply itself to their daily lives.

It's no use wondering what would have happened if I hadn't been there, because I was. You hear stories of spontaneous combustion when you put metal in a microwave, but the closest I've come to that has been putting a gold-rimmed bowl in one before, and I have a vague memory of one of my kids putting a fork in the microwave.

I'm sure if the house burned down I'd be inclined to remember more.

But it was an eye-opener. These kids who are driving around town, operating heavy machinery and about to live out on their own unsupervised still need a bit of guidance. And sure, they have to make their own mistakes, and while it's not always easy, that's part of growing up, and we have to give them their room to grow.

But in the meantime, it might not be a bad idea to keep a fire extinguisher handy, just in case.

By the way, the cookies were delicious, and only a little salty. I still had three.

The Lawton Constitution

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