“Washing my hands,” he tells me.
I blink and notice the packet of pasta beside me. I raise an eyebrow.
“Are you sure?” I ask.
He takes his soaking hands from under the water. I hold my stern expression for a moment before chuckling and sweeping him off the chair.
“Sorry, buddy, you aren’t old enough to cook yet,” I tell him. “Let your mom or I cook for you for a little longer, yeah?”
Owen pouts. Jessica has mentioned, in recent weeks, Owen’s increasing fascination with the kitchen, ever since the two of them baked cookies together. Personally, I think he’s just fascinated by using the forbidden oven. It’s something he’s been told he’s not allowed to touch so, of course, he wants to get inside it and see why it can cook such delicious cookies.
“Jessica!” I call, raising my voice a little to be heard. “Owen was at the kitchen sink!”
I hear a clatter, as though Jessica has knocked something over. Moments later the toilet flushes and the tap runs before Jessica is dashing out of the bathroom, skidding on the linoleum floor. She pauses, though, when she sees me holding Owen, both of us blinking at her, stunned by her sudden reaction.
“Um…?” I ask.
“Oh,” Jessica says, flushing. “Yesterday he got into the flour and sugar; it was everywhere. If he was at the sink, then he probably wanted to try cooking again.”
I raise an eyebrow at the three-year-old in my arms. He looks far too pleased with himself.
“I think he was trying to make cookies again,” Jessica continues with a sigh. “Owen, I’ve told you th
at you’re not allowed in the kitchen unless Daddy, Hazel or I are with you. I’ll give you a time-out if you do it again.”
Owen’s face abruptly changes to horror. Time-outs mean not being allowed to play with his toys while he’s forced to sit quietly at the dining room table for five whole minutes. I cough to hide my snicker and Jessica winks at me.
“No!” Owen wails.
“Then be good,” Jessica says severely. “Don’t you want Daddy to take you to the park tomorrow?”
He immediately turns beseeching eyes on me.
“Can we?” he begs.
“Um…” I say, drawing it out as I pretend to think. I give it up quickly, though, when his eyes shimmer. No matter how many times Jessica tells me that they’re mostly crocodile tears, I fall for it every time. “Yes, we’re going. If you’re good for the rest of the night.”
“Okay!” Owen chirps, beaming.
Jessica rolls her eyes.
“Stop spoiling him,” she scolds. “He’s got you wrapped around his little finger.”
“Sorry,” I say, trying to look as contrite as possible.
“Ugh, you’re both as bad as each other,” Jessica complains.
But she laughs as she says it, her eyes twinkling as she looks at the two of us. I feel a broad grin spreading across my own face, beaming at her as I set Owen down on the ground. Immediately, he runs off toward the living room.
“Owen playing with food, though, has reminded me that it’s getting late,” Jessica says, glancing at the clock. “Want to help with dinner?”
“Sounds good,” I say, shrugging.
I step into the kitchen after her and head to the cupboard. Jessica messaged me earlier, telling me that she had bought ingredients for a steak stew, so I go straight to the plastic bag that is still sitting on the counter and rummage through it as Jessica finds some pots in the cupboard.
“How was work?” Jessica asks.