The Cookie Jar

Once upon a time there was a little boy who loved chocolate chip cookies. Now this little boy's father was a baker and he knew exactly how many chocolate chips his son liked in his cookies. But because the father was a loving parent, he knew that a constant diet of cookies would not be healthy for a growing boy, so the father put some boundaries on just how many cookies his son could have. Sometimes the son complained about the amount not being enough, or he needed to increase the chips, or the cookie wasn't large enough even though the chip count was right. The most important boundary however was the one of: "no cookie before dinner," and," if the vegetables aren't eaten, none after dinner, either."  Now the daily fresh cookies were placed in a jar. The lid wasn't locked, so the cookies were easily accessible for the little boy to have. For  a long time the agreed upon system worked.

However, one day the boy decided to sneak a cookie to eat before dinner. And, he did force his vegetables down in order not to reveal his appetite had been compromised— especially since afterward he could have a cookie for dessert. This went on for several weeks until one day his father came home early and caught his son with his hand in the cookie jar. His father told him he always knew just how many cookies were missing and that he knew exactly what his son had been doing. He again warned his son what would be the result of eating too many cookies and how it would eventually make his son sick and hinder his growing up to be a healthy man.

But his son ignored his father's warning. The boy began to think angry thoughts about his father.

If his father really cared, why did he bake the cookies knowing they would be a temptation? Why didn't his father—if he really cared about him— just move the cookie jar out of the kitchen? And, why introduce something into his life that would forever be a problem for him? And even more importantly, wasn't the father's need for appreciation the reason that had hooked him into loving chocolate chip cookies in the first place?

The boy decided it definitely was his father's fault that caused him to break his promises. Therefore, as long as his father kept baking the cookies he was perfectly justified in taking and eating as many as he wanted, because the cookie jar was always full.

One day the boy was so sick he couldn't get out of bed. He called out to his father for help, and when his father came, he confessed about taking the cookies, how he hadn't listened, and how he was now paying the price for not doing what they had agreed upon. He said he was sorry and would try to do better. Would his father forgive him and would his father, please help him get better? He promised to try to keep the rules they had agreed upon. After his confession his father did forgive him with comfort and love. The father brought good food so his son could eat what was healthy. And after awhile, the son got better and regained his health. Yet, his love of cookies never quite went away. And, his father continued to bake them and leave them in the jar. And, the boy continued to steal them.

The situation repeated until again the son became so sick he was near death. This time, after confronting his father with blame for continuing to tempt him, accusing his father that it was his father's fault because he knew the cookies would make him sick, and now almost dying, he asked his father to take away the jar full of cookies all together. And so his father did.

Time went on, and the son missed the cookies even though he had recovered his health and strength. He also realized that there were bakers other than his father— having tried other chocolate chip cookies elsewhere. Even though he had learned that none of the bakers were as good as his father, he thought— at least he could have as many cookies as he wanted to buy with his own money by working for one of the bakers. He also decided that it was time to leave his father's house since he was nearly a grown-up and could be independent. He decided to apprentice with a baker who had agreed to hire him after school. He could sleep on a cot in the kitchen and his work was paid in food. One morning he filled his back-pack with some clothes and without a word to his father didn't return home after school.

Working for another baker was hard and except for the pay in cookies, his life was unsatisfying, demeaning— and lonely. Also, no matter how hard he tried to stay healthy, with the long hours in the bakery and school, and with freedom to eat as many cookies as he wanted, he became sick again. Therefore, he could no longer work. In fact he was out on the street. Without money he couldn't buy healthy food, let alone a cookie.  What to do?

He began to think about what the cookies meant. After all, maybe, just maybe, it wasn't about cookies. It was about watching his father make them and how together after his father had rolled out the dough they both enjoyed eating some dough pieces together. And, it was about how his father had counted out each chocolate piece so that every cookie had the same amount which meant he never was disappointed in one cookie being less satisfying than another. Also, when his father took them out of the oven, the smell was fragrant, wonderful…mouth-watering…in anticipation of each warm bite…and the laughter…and the hug that came from his father afterward. Once in a while his father made an extra batch, telling him to take some to school to share with others. This brought him a lot of thanks from his friends which made him feel really good.

What about a message to his father for help? What about promising to do whatever his father asked? Would his father take him back? Would being sorry be enough?

He took a deep breath and knocked on the door of his father's house. Almost immediately it swung open. His father's arms were crossed in front of his chest, his face was serious. The son hesitated to step across the threshold. His father waved him in without a word.

"I'm sorry, Dad. I'm sorry the way that I left. I'm sorry about not listening to you. Not obeying you. Not appreciating you…or respecting you. Please, forgive me. I promise to do better. "

He saw his father turn and walk into the kitchen. He followed. On the counter was every ingredient necessary for making the cookies. His father handed him the recipe.

 Andrea MacVicar©2021