granny smith: my form of child abuse

It’s a good thing I don’t measure my self-worth or my sense of accomplishment soley by my children’s health, happiness, or behavior. No, wait. What I mean to say is I wish I could eradicate the tiny, tiny part of me that still reflexively does react this way to their fortunes, misfortunes, and expressed personality traits. Today as I put the finishing touches on a homemade apple oat crisp pie the kids asked when it would be ready and I said, “About fifty minutes.” Sophie reacted by wailing and rending her clothing; Nels shouted at me out of anger. “It’s all your fault,” he stormily announced. Gee. What a dick I am. You know, for making them a pie.

Since yesterday afternoon the childrens favorite game has been that of Home Restaurant – a game they’ve played many times before with many variations. In this version, my kitchen is Kelly Marie’s Cafe and they are my customers. My husband and I are the employees – the owners and cooks. Nels in particular favors the construct of a “menu” – he painstakingly hand-letters the breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner offerings of the day (for two days in a row now). And just to confuse you after the above example of his verbal aggression, he speaks in the utmost civil tone when he comes into the “restaurant”. “May I see the menu, miss?” and, “I’d like to try the dessert selection, please.”

Sometimes I think we eat rather unusual food; tending toward the vegetarian, often involving several dishes of rather plainly-dressed vegetables complimented by simple dairy products. I have never been especially gifted at preparing meat and I lack the interest to learn (for the time being). Tonight I made buttered pasta with a homemade red sauce, blanched spinach, broccoli florets, pan-roasted garbanzo beans, and seared mushrooms braised with beer and consumme. The kids had a mango smoothie with dinner and were so very appreciative of the meal. I do enjoy watching them enjoy food. Nels is, at this point, more adventurous than his sister and tends to eat more. Last night he requested several helpings of a sushi roll (it probably wasn’t technically sushi; sushi rice wrapped in nori), and today at lunch he devoured two steamy portions of arroz y frijoles from one of our taquerías.

Food is a very comforting ritual for our family. Most nights we eat relatively modest, homemade fare, but we eat together every night. My husband does the dishes every night and I’ve let go of feeling uncomfortable that he does so (thanks, FOO, for years of patriarchal-induced guilt!). I’m happy Ralph always has something homemade and delicious to take to work in the morning; today he brought 3/4 of a carrot cake to his work and wrangled a “trade” with someone, treating us to some homemade fudge. Delicious rituals of food sharing; in the dismal cold and dark of winter, a welcome respite.

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