When preschoolers hand you lemons...

Look what my girlfriend made!

I would say she just whipped it up in the midst of a particularly chaotic Saturday afternoon, but “whipped it up” would imply effortlessness, and this baby was a bit of a palaver. The making, chilling, and rolling out of the dough. The — literal and figurative — lemon squeezing involved in making the filling. The separating of eggs, the beating of egg whites into meringue. The assembly. The baking.

All told, it was a marathon of a pie. Rachel kept apologizing for attempting such a complex feat of baking on a weekend day, with children underfoot. Rangy, rangy, rangy children. “If I’d known it was going to be so much work,” she kept saying, “I never would’ve started this.”

Which kind of sums up how I was feeling about having kids right at that particular moment. Our morning had consisted of a series of tantrums, from adults and children alike, culminating in a tear-stained Rowan running down the driveway just as I was about to put the car in gear, screaming, “I am too going to the maaaaaaaaaaaarket!”

Minutes earlier, of course, he had refused to get into the vehicle, declaring loudly and repeatedly that under no circumstances was he going to the market. Rachel had finally thrown up her hands in disgust and gone back in the house with him, while I and a blinking Isaac, already in his car seat, were left outside. For a brief, shining moment I thought that Isaac and I might have a sweet little date together, sans four-year-old attitude. In the end, I strapped Rowan in, fed him a banana, did some deep breathing, and braved the public with both children, leaving Rachel at home for a blessed hour or two to stare at the wall or do Sudokus or drink herself silly — whatever she needed. She reciprocated that afternoon when I strapped Isaac into the stroller and wandered around the neighbourhood for an hour or two, listening to This American Life on my iPod. As I left, Rachel and Rowan were arguing about whether he could or could not stick his fingers in the mixing bowl while the electric beaters were running.

When I returned, Rachel and Rowan had reached some sort of truce. They had managed, together, to get the pie into and out of the oven. Then they played chase in the basement and read books. The kitchen was spotless. And this beauty was cooling on the counter — cloudy layers just obscuring the sunny sweetness underneath.