This blog has been quiet for a while, in large part to the busyness of the summer. Breaktime, the Bakery, Urban Farm, and Community Garden are all running at full steam, and time to write is rare. Today is that rare day.

I want to start by saying I love middle school kids. They are raw, unpredictable, unexplainable, passionate, dramatic, real, and crazy. The Breaktime Bakery provides me with 32 days of constant contact with middle school kids. Everyday they make me laugh with their wild ideas. Everyday they attempt to tear me down by reminding me I’m bald. Last week we took the Bakery kids to the beach. As we were waiting to leave for Holland, one of the Bakers came in my office, saw me wearing a Transformers shirt, and said, “Holy crap, Eric’s a Decepticon!” You never know what they’re going to say.

Middle school students are not young children anymore, but they also aren’t the adults they think they are. I have to remind myself that on a regular basis, because baking with middle school kids is hard. They sometimes forget to count how much flour they are adding to a recipe, sometimes they forget cheese in cheddar herb bread, sometimes they roll cookies in salt instead of sugar, sometimes they get confused between cups and tablespoons, and regularly they tell me the No-Bake cookies are ready to be baked. There are days like today when I’m so tired by noon, I can barely function, and that exhaustion comes from chasing ten kids around a kitchen.

Sometimes I expect perfection, and I have to remind myself they are kids. When the towels get used as wash clothes, the floor gets bombed by eggs, or we go through five rolls of paper towel in a day, I have to remember they are kids. I also have to remember that they are growing in their skills. Many of them have come a long way since the first day. They are baking awesome recipes at home for our weekly challenges. They are starting to look for items when they do inventory. They are interacting with customers with more eye contact. They are even taking the Bible studies more seriously. Just today, four of the Bakers brought in Bible verses related to our topic this week. They searched the Bible on their own last night!

Baking with kids is one of the greatest challenges I take part in every summer, it is also the most rewarding. I love working with middle school kids.