He could not decide what he wanted to watch. He looked sullen and miserable, which made me feel drained at 10 a.m. in the morning. I had no idea what he wanted to do. I wish he would tell me. Why did he look so upset? I was still trying to get used to my nephew’s moods, because this was the first time I was getting to know him. I was staying with my cousin as a house-guest and babysitter the very first summer vacation of college. Being the houseguest was easy, but being the babysitter – well, let’s just say it was challenging. And sometimes frustrating, like when you think you will have loads of fun with your three-year-old nephew, but he couldn’t be bothered.
“Do you want to watch Cars?” I asked.
“Nope,” he said, concentrated on picking his left toe, as if he never harbored a passion for McQueen.
“How about Incredibles?”
“Umm, Thomas the Train?”
“What happened, are you feeling okay?” I asked, now very exasperated.
He didn’t answer and looked mournfully at the dark screen of the large flat-screen television.
I felt uneasy – somewhat alarmed – was he scared of me? Or worse – did he not find me the fun aunt I clearly envisioned myself to be? I bit my lips, and resolved to pull this very young man out of his sullen mood.
“I feel like playing the Pooh game, do you want to play?”
A silent nod was all I got.
“Ok, let’s go to the living room then!” I said with as much enthusiasm I could muster, feeling more like the younger kid in the scene.
My nephew followed me and I took out the Winnie the Pooh game. I laid out the board but when selecting the tokens, found my nephew more interested in digging Hot Wheel cars out of the toy basket. Remarkably though, he seemed less sullen and was talking to himself. Seeing him gradually get back to himself, I decided to let him be for a while. That’s when the recipe caught my eyes, printed on the back of the Pooh game box cover. I read the recipe – it sounded like just what any kid would LOVE – and it was so very EASY. I looked up at my unsuspecting nephew. Oh, he will end up giving me a certificate for the Most Fun Aunt Ever!
My cousin’s kitchen is beside the living room, so while I kept an eye on my nephew, I got the necessary stuff from my cousin’s pantry. I got the peanut butter – the creamy kind, the honey (she had clover), semi-sweet chocolate chips, sweet cocoa, and vanilla extract. The recipe originally asked for milk chocolate morsels, but she had the chips, and it seemed to work just fine.
So first I put half-a-cup of peanut butter and honey each into a bowl, and mixed it with a spatula. I added the vanilla extract and after much muscle work and bowl-almost-slipping situations, I made a smooth blend out of the mixture. The recipe asked for confectioner’s sugar, but in the house there was only granulated sugar, so I got – ahem – a little creative. I put half-a-cup of granulated sugar in a zip lock bag, double bagged it for safety, and then started banging it with a small hammer. This insane activity finally made my nephew interested in me.
“What are you doing?” he asked, his eyes wide, dragging his bare feet on the carpet to come near the kitchen table.
“I am powdering sugar. You wanna see?” I asked, and he looked so endearingly puzzled, that without waiting for him to answer, I hoisted him on one of the chairs that gave him a full view of my desperate activities.
“Why?” he asked simply, and I wondered if he felt protective of his mother’s property, which I was using so liberally.
“Because I am making you something yummy,” I said, a smile on my lips, and returned to hammering the sugar.
“What is it?”
Who doesn’t like mystery? But kids love it. So he kept asking me what I was making, and I kept giving evasive answers, feeling happy that at least he was being communicative now. Thank God for the recipe! When I was done powdering the sugar, I measured out half-a-cup of it, and mixed it into my blend, a little at a time.
Then I placed the mixture in the refrigerator for about half-an-hour, and by now the mystery of what I was making had so intrigued my nephew, that he was practically jumping. We played with his toy cars, and he screamed heartily every time the cars clashed mid-way. He was uber excited when I was ready to take the mixture out of the fridge. I guess he suspected the Honey Truffles would come out ready-made but we had a blast making the truffles together.
We scooped out some of the mixture with a teaspoon, placed 2-3 chocolate chips in it, and rolled it into a ball. Then we dropped it into a small bowl of half cup sweetened cocoa. After rolling in the ball in the cocoa, we placed it on a plate. Our hands and sleeves were smeared with sticky peanut butter and our fingers were brown with cocoa powder, but we could not stop giggling from all the fun we were having. We made about 30 small truffles, and once we were done, we stuck the plate of truffles into the fridge for about a couple of hours.
I took advantage of this time to clean-up all the mess. We both cleaned-up and changed as well. From the wistful glances my nephew kept throwing at the fridge, I knew he could not wait to taste the truffles. Truth be told, I could not either. At the same time, I wanted to make it a special memory that we both would always cherish. So I made my suggestion:
“How about we watch Cars while we eat the truffles?” I asked him.
“Cool! Sounds great!” he jumped around in assent.
“Yes!” We high-five-d each other, and went into the den.
The television screen lit up with Pixar’s sign with the promise of a fantastic animated movie. My nephew nestled comfortably against the large white couch, while I got the plate of chocolate-covered, honey-infused truffles. We started eating and watching. We continued eating and watching. We finished the truffles, and kept watching. We kept watching, my nephew’s cute head on my lap while McQueen zigzagged on Route 66. I knew I have been elevated to the status of a Fun Aunt.