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Creative Nonfiction


Sunshine Pancakes

Kymberlin Johnson


2 cups Bisquick™ Original Pancake & Baking Mix

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla*

(*Bisquick™ doesn’t call for vanilla, and no one will notice the difference, but your girls have liked to dab it on their wrists ever since your wife told them she used to use it as perfume)


1. Make sure both of your adoring daughters are in the kitchen before you start. You have to let them help, even though it’s probably easier and less messy to do it yourself. They rarely get to see you, and this is your only day off. Don’t waste it. Remind them to wash their hands—you will have to help the youngest one reach the sink because she’s still too short even with the step stool. (She hasn’t yet hit the growth spurt that will make her taller than everyone but you.)

2. Grease the skillet and set it to medium-high heat. You’ll know it’s hot enough when your oldest sprinkles water on it and is delighted when the droplets dance and sizzle on the surface. (She’ll always like this part of cooking.)

3. In the yellow glass mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. Give your oldest the whisk and let her stir until her arms get tired, then finish mixing in any remaining lumps yourself. (Someday, one of you will have the bright idea to make the batter in the blender, and you won’t have to bother with whisks or mixing bowls or tired arms.)

4. When your youngest begs for a cup of milk, gently remind her she needs to wait until breakfast is ready. Distract her by letting her pour slightly less than ¼ cupfuls of batter onto the hot skillet. She will likely drip batter all over the counter; let her help anyway. (There will come a time when both of them are too busy for mornings like this.)

5. Cook until the edges are dry, then give in when your youngest insists she can flip the pancake on her own. She’ll cry when the pancake breaks, so give her to your pregnant wife who is watching from her seat at the bar and offer her a glass of milk as consolation. The tears won’t last long.

6. Under your oldest’s watchful gaze, pour and flip the rest of the pancakes yourself and cook until golden.

7. Ask your oldest to set the table. Remind her not to forget the napkins. You don’t need to remind her to get the syrup and the butter. (When she gets older, she’ll go through a stage when she only eats yogurt on her pancakes rather than syrup.)

8. When the pancakes are ready, put them all on a plate and take them to the table. This is the most important part, so make sure you don’t forget—when your girls pass their plates to you and ask for sunshines, use your fork to carefully cut triangles from the edges of their pancakes to make it look like sunrays. It won’t be perfectly even, but they won’t mind as long as their dad is the one to cut it for them.


On those Sunday mornings when you want nothing more than to sleep until noon, exhausted from a long week of work, remind yourself there will be time to take a nap later, then drag yourself out of bed. It may seem like you have forever, but before you know it, your girls will be all grown up, and when you offer them pancakes, they will no longer ask you to give them the sun.

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