Note: Last spring I submitted a piece to Listen to Your Mother and then pulled out because I came down with pandemonium (it is too a thing.) I am posting the piece here because I am a New Englander and can’t stand wasting things.
When my 7 year old offered to make dinner, I considered sitting in the kitchen snacking the whole time he cooked, saying I wasn’t hungry when dinner was served. For the record, I had the full support of the internet when I announced this as my plan.
Random strangers made suggestions for style points, including announcing starvation 15 minutes after dinner and eating an entire box of cereal with all the milk in the house poured on top. That’s the nice thing about the internet. You realize that even if you’re still the most horrible person in the room, you’re in really good company.
While it may be that the people I attract are all horrible human beings, I chose to believe that they are like me – amicably horrible. Because lets face it, we can’t be nice all the time.
When Sugarplum (who is the nicest person in the family) hauls off and punches her little brother, I want to applaud her for waiting so long. It’s not that I condone violence, it’s that I can’t fathom where she gets that kind of patience. No official statistics are available, but I’m guessing for each time she does go for the smack down, there are 37 billion times she resisted the urge. He’s a little brother, after all.
(A little brother who has offered to make dinner. Let us not forget where our bread is buttered.)
It’s possible that Sugarplum is looking ahead, realizing her scrawny little brother will eventually be bigger than her. She is currently saving for a house, so this kind of planning is not out of character. I’m sure she learned all this from me because I am a shining example of how to do everything right. I taught them that it’s bad to leave paychecks in the pocket of your jeans when you wash them, and that cell phones aren’t for sitting on, and bees have personal space issues.
It was my husband who taught them not to make a u-turn across a median in front of a police car, but I covered the rest.
Teaching by example is my forte.
What is it I want them to learn from me? I want them to learn to cook so I don’t have to. I want them to use their words. I want them to do unto others as they would have others do to them, assuming they don’t turn out to be masochists.
I also want them to know that I’m usually right and sometimes they are jerks, but I haven’t figured out a gentle way to put this. Every time I come up with a plan, there’s this annoying voice in my head (or perhaps my heart, or spleen), that talks me out of it. Stupid spleen.
What I suppose I really want is for them to not be jerks, listen when I ask them to do something, and stop eating loaves of toast before dinner.
Like Sugarplum strategizing for the future, we have to pick our battles. Yes, refusing to eat the dinner he worked so hard on would have given my son a window into my blackened and bitter soul. It may have helped him understand why my head spins around and orange sparks shoot out of my eyes when he eats a loaf of toast in lieu of dinner. Or, he might wonder why he is cooking for this mess of ingrates and throw in the towel, never cooking again because what a waste of time is that? You put all the effort into finding recipes that the whole family will like, making sure it is balanced and nutritious as well as sustainably grown, in season and aesthetically pleasing and then you offer up this meal that may as well be your heart and soul on a platter and they can’t even take their own dishes to the kitchen when they’re done.
I don’t always like cooking for these ingrates either.
So when my son made dinner, I did not sit in the kitchen eating cheesypuffydoodles as planned. I stayed out of the kitchen entirely. If I can help make cooking dinner a success for him, he may cook again. I am going to weasel out of this job yet. Watch me.
When two of my favorite things faced off, being fed trumped being smug. So when it sounded like it was getting close, I asked my son if I could help by setting the table.
So, do you use a fork or spoon to eat noodles and jam?