I’ll tell you why I only have one child, because I was afraid to have two. When I was a teenager and known for my skills of babysitting up to nine children at a time, I was sure I would have at least two, but life as I imagined it and life as I know it are not one in the same. When Ferdinand was born it was all I could do to leave the room if he were sleeping. When he laughed, I was happy; if he got sick I wept. There was no world without him. Every pearl of wisdom that I cracked as teenager like a big wad of bubblegum–the kid can’t tie his own shoe, he always has to have his own way because the mother has no guts, and for god’s sake they’re going to end up with a full grown four year old–I am guilty of. I would have had no patience, none, for the the speed of a snail in cold molasses that I have for learning what I knew at sixteen and unlearned the minute Ferdinand was born.
He can leave the house on his own to get bagel at the corner, he walks the dog, he folds his clothes and he eats what we eat for dinner and I am proud of all of that.
This weekend I took care of a friend’s ten year old boy for two and a half days. From the starting gate I felt like those commercials of people who are convinced they have definitely mastered brushing their teeth and then they shine one of those special lights on there and it looks like they haven’t brushed for the good part of a year.
“Don’t go in my room, I’m better, I’m faster, don’t touch those they’re mine, that’s a stupid movie I’m not watching it”, was spreading all over the place. A mother doesn’t speak her needs to a ten year old the way another ten year old does. I don’t need to share toys or the television; our routine of one-dom when another of the same came to sleep over, cracked. I talked about how good it feels to give, and how important it is agree every once in a while even if it’s to agree to disagree, how we all need support, and we all need to just let some stuff go. I made it all sound so good, and they would agree because I made them say they agreed and then they would go about their business of doing the same thing all over again. They couldn’t get it. Every single time they started to come around they didn’t.
And then I remembered something my mother in law told me and realized it wasn’t that they weren’t getting it, just not as much as I wanted them to. “It’s impossible” she said, when anyone is trying to make a change to get it right all of the time; there is progress even in the few minutes that it’s working.”
It’s all in how you see it. When his dad came to pick him up they were playing, and not because I said they had to. Progress.
Just in case you need a wrench in your cooking this week here are menus you might not normally make; see what happens:
Lentil soup w/ salad of paper thin radishes, paper thin celery, paper thin slices of lemon, arugula, capers and parsley with dressing of smashed garlic, olive oil and anchovies
asparagus salad w/baby spinach, chive, chopped egg
fondue w/ gruyere
blini w/smoked salmon and creme fraiche
seared scallop w/ butter, garlic, flat leaf parsley and shallot
bitter greens w/dijon dressing
penne w/slow cooked pancetta and tomato and cream
broccoli w/slivered garlic
pan seared beef filet, sliced thin served w/lemon and olive oil
Fava, peas, new potatoes, asparagus, garlic and mint
pan fried soft shell crab in a cornmeal crust