Usually when I post a recipe, it's followed by a blow-your-mind commentary about how badly you need to make this right now, how it's the best thing I ever tasted and, ideally, how easy it was.
Today is not about that. Today is about instant oatmeal and how you can best prepare it for breakfast for your toddler. Let's begin.
First, open up the sad arsenal that is your kitchen pantry. Debate between the generic brand of instant oatmeal in a variety of flavors, or the Quaker box you bought because it was on sale and you had a coupon. Ask your toddler what she would like to have, wait patiently as she stares and then toddles off into the other room to destroy something you just cleaned.
Take the initiative in flavor choosing and go with Strawberries + Cream. Rip it open, pour it into a supposedly microwave-safe bowl that actually feels like it just came out of a kiln if heated for more than 8 seconds. Ignore the directions because, heck, you've made oatmeal a thousand times and you can eyeball the milk. Get your organic whole milk out of the fridge, remind yourself that your husband will not allow you to have a dairy cow despite the ridiculous quantities of milk consumed by your offspring, and pour some overtop the oatmeal. Admire the unnatural pink color - it should be somewhere between salmon and mauve.
Microwave for the suggested 60 seconds, realize it's still cold and watery, add 60 seconds more. At this point, one of two things will happen. Either your oatmeal will refuse to thicken, maintaining it's watery, soupy state; or it will boil over the sides of the bowl before you have time to drop a curse word or two, puddling up in your semi-clean microwave. It is safe to assume the bowl is really not all that hot and try to remove it from the microwave, taking care not to touch the 1/2 cup of dried oatmeal now glued to the side of the bowl. Once your fingers have sustained second-degree burns, drop the bowl onto the glass stovetop, ensuring you tip it far enough to the side to spill any remaining oatmeal. Leave it on the stovetop for at least 4 hours. It will cement itself there and you will need a razor blade to remove it.
At this point, the oatmeal should be in excess of 425*F. If it's not boiling hot and unacceptable for consumption by a small person, you missed a step somewhere. Start again.
If it is scorching hot, move it to the freezer for at least an hour for it to come to normal temperature. Take your toddler outside to play with the dog for a while. Wait for your erratic dog to do something stupid and send you back inside - this should take no longer than 90 seconds. Try to find something to entertain your toddler as she starts to fuss with hunger.
Remove oatmeal from freezer, attempt to feed toddler in her high chair. After several spoonfuls are refused (and the spoon should be smacked out of your hand so the oatmeal hits the chandelier and walls), attempt to allow her to feed herself. Oatmeal is not an ideal food for this, but you should be at your wits end at this point in the process. Allow yourself to feel momentarily impressed by her dexterity for the first bite or two as she will lead you to believe this meal could possibly end without a morning bath. But savor this short-lived moment, because she will manage to smear oatmeal in her hair, her eyelashes, between all her extremities, and up her nose.
This next part is not for the faint of heart as wiping a toddler's face and hands is equivalent to severing a limb. Do your best to ignore the screaming and hand-flailing that will accompany the wiping (you may want to ensure you are not using sand paper in lieu of a paper towel based on the reaction). Wait 30 minutes before finding moist bits of oatmeal stuck under her neck rolls. There should also be questionable bits smeared into the cabinets and on random pieces of Tupperware. Do not waste your energy trying to figure out how.
Decide never to feed her oatmeal again. Repeat process again tomorrow morning with a different flavor.