Three Eyed NinjaBread

I'm gonna be the first to admit I'm not much of an arts and crafts fan.

Now that's not like saying I'm not much of a fan of the arts, nor is it like saying I don't admire craft, and I'm not totally dismissive of the sexiness of hot glue and green glitter, but when it comes to quality family time, if there is creche paper involved, it usually means Joann and I doing all this work, one of our children crying, and two or three extra glasses of wine to numb out what could have been a very nice evening.

 And it's messy.

And it never comes out like the picture.

And we already have too many christmas tree ornaments and our garage is starting to look like the warehouse where they stored the ark of the covenant.

So when Joann brought home a box of make-it-yourself NinjaBread Cookies, I was thrilled by how cute they are and desperately praying to the christian god that I was either going to be very busy or very dead when the time came.

And please please please don't mix up the message. Quality family time is nothing less than the most important thing we can do for ourselves as parents and for the future of humanity through the small percentage that is made up by our children.

The fact that it always turns into some frustrating nightmare is irrelevant.


So, officially, when I don't display any real enthusiasm is only, and I mean this honestly, is only because I'm a negative Nancy who deserves to be mocked and punished.

And the NinjaBread cookies roll out just like I thought they would. First, har, har, they were nearly impossible to roll out. I think it's because the recipe called for eggs, flour and Elmer's glue. Calvin kept disappearing exactly six seconds before it was time for him to press the molds into the dough, requiring Joann to yell at him every four minutes or so to stop jumping on his bed and come back into the kitchen. I don't remember what I was doing, irrrrrelevant, but incredibly unhelpful and I don't think I could have annoyed my wife more than if I too had been jumping on the bed.

So the cookies are rolled, the cookies are cut, the cookies are cooked and the cookies are cooling, and the pretty curly haired girl is officially and forgivably done. She's got other things to do, other things that require some far away-ness, and the decorating is left to Mr. Nancy and his live wire eight year old.

I didn't know this until I started taking part in the pre-tween arts and crafts movement, but there is a conspiracy among confectioners to make sure that the tools, food stuffs, and decorative accouterment designed for the novice market is as impossible to master as, lets say, tuning a fish.

Cause, you know, you can tune a piano, but . . . .
And it makes sense. They want you thinking it looks easy. They include everything you need except for the Elmer's glue. And they know you're going to spend twice as much on the kit as you normally would for the pre-made stuff, cause family time is essential. And they know you have no measurable chance of ever making your NinjaBread Cookies looking anything like anything and because your little princess is crying, you're gonna have to make a special trip to the mall to get the NinjaCookies at Mrs. Smith's wonderful smelling kiosk.

They sold you three times as much, and ruining your marriage was just the icing on the cake, cause now there's two households spending three times as much next year.

So when Joann, in her last exasperated breath, as she raced down the hallway and out the door told me not to decorate all the cookies, I realized she had awesomely delivered my just deserts.

"Ha!" I thought. Calvin's way too busy jumping on the bed. He'll never remember that there is a family project just waiting for him on the kitchen table.

"Ha!" my christian god said. cause that was the exact moment Calvin came tiptoeing down the hallway.



"Can we decorate the cookies now?"

"Urrrrrrr. Wash your hands."


"Cause you have to wash your hands anytime you touch food."

"Even cookies?"

"Especially cookies."

Quality Family Time. Quality Family Time. Quality Family Time.

Now Joann was the true hero, for she forsook the part of the project that requires you to make your own icing, and instead, she picked up the pre-made stuff along with several helpful design tips. The fact that it was still like trying to squeeze a whole turkey sandwich through the gap of your front teeth is irrrrrrelevent.



"What are you doing?"

"I'm kneading the icing to make it softer."

"It that what is says to do?"

"Sure does."

But, and this is for all the confectionist confederacy, it doesn't work.

Not a jot.

So, good one on you.

I tried to show Calvin how to squeeze the icing with one hand while holding the cookie steady with the other, but even I had a hard time squeezing with one hand, so I had to hold the cookie while he splurted icing up and down the body of the ninjabread.

"It doesn't look anything like the picture." he said.

"Nothing will. My turn." I replied.

We did this back and forth for about six cookies and then I decided I had lost interest in the fascinating array of ninja designs and it was time to go rogue. So I gave my rebel ninja one arm, four legs and three eyes.

"Dad. You gave that ninja three eyes."


"You can do that?"

"Of course."

Cause that's where the magic happens.

Poor Lazy Negative Nancy had forgotten that the pre-tween arts and crafts projects aren't about living in Martha Stewart land. They aren't fodder for Facebook or Pinterest propaganda. They're a product, yes, and a terrible product at that, but in the end, they can take your little boys' brains out of the pre-imagined universe and consider possibility if only for a moment.

If a ninjabread man can have three eyes then maybe, just maybe, it's okay to wear winter time pajama bottoms with summer time tops, or resolve a symphony on a suspended fourth.

(actually, no, please don't try that)

But it is possible, however cruel, and stripping the imagination from its shackles leads to all kinds of good things.

Now, I'm not saying go out and spend your money. In fact, kinda don't. But consider, at least, that fun can be kinda fun when you forget about the "how to" and saunter over to the "what if?"

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