Pancakes and pudding 

My nine- and ten-year-olds came whining to me again.

“Mommy, Chalsey’s taking all the LEGO blocks!”

“Davin always gets the best pieces!”

Kristy, my five-year-old, was crying. “It’s not fair! I want to build an airplane, but they won’t let me.”

This had been going on all afternoon, one thing after another. No matter how many toys they had, they couldn’t just have fun together. I shot up a quick prayer for an illustration that would help us to get a grip on the problem.

“Who likes plain, dry pancakes?” I asked. The kids froze and looked surprised at my sudden change of subject. “Plain pancakes with nothing on them—just dry, get-stuck-in-your-throat pancakes?”

“Not me!” they all cried in unison.

“I see. So when you asked me to make pancakes yesterday, you didn’t want plain pancakes. You wanted pancakes and pudding.” It had been a special Father’s Day breakfast of hot pancakes smothered in creamy chocolate pudding.

“And when you’re playing, you don’t just want to play with plain toys, any more than you wanted plain pancakes. Just like the pudding made the pancakes delicious, your friendship is what makes the games fun. Even if you got every LEGO piece you wanted, your playtime could still be no fun. What makes it special is when you all play together. That’s when you really have a good time. You need ‘pancakes and pudding.’”

The children understood the illustration perfectly and decided to play a game together. It worked like magic. We were stuck in the house for the next few days due to bad weather, but no one seemed to mind. Any time tempers flared, I’d tell the kids, “The pancakes need some more pudding.”

As I thought more about it later, I realized that lesson wasn’t only for my children. I sometimes work so hard to accomplish the goals I set for myself that I view everything else as a distraction. I want plain, uninterrupted work time, and then I wonder why my work feels so dry and unenjoyable.

If you too sometimes find that your day is crowded with worries, stress, and work, if you feel you’ve lost that spark, if you’re feeling a little dry, perhaps what you need to make your day complete is a heaping scoop of sweet, fresh “pudding.”