Yuck. It is dark in here. And scary. So much of what is in here has to do with who I am. Have I grown up well? Am I a good citizen? Have I contributed to society or am I just a little blot on the landscape? Am I selfish? Who is this home schooling project really for? Did I take it on to provide a reason for not getting other things done? Projects which I say I want to do but which I am afraid will be too much work, or that I might simply never be able to do?
How can I ever hope to set a good example for Thing Two if I am still figuring out my own life week by week? I already know that one of the reasons Thing Two gives when asked about why she decided to leave school is, "Well, I was going to fail anyway." No matter how many times I tell her that her teacher told me she was fine, that she wasn't going to fail, that reason continues to pop out. Second on her list is, "Well, it was so hard, and so much work."
Are the habits that Thing Two has which get her in trouble with me, and are ineffective for her, the same habits I have, that haven't worked for me? Have I handed on the worst of myself through simple inattention to my own self talk? Inattention, and laziness, the friends of bad habits. Selfish and lazy, that might be me, right? Laziness! I mean, I have it good here with Thing Two around to help out. What's in it for her? Wouldn't she be better off in school and doing homework when she comes home? Isn't it a mother's job to bring in the firewood, cook the meals, do the dishes, the laundry, the sweeping and tidying?
Fortunately while I'm in here rooting around in all the junk, Thing Two is very excitedly preparing her first ever batch of spaghetti sauce. Supper looks and smells like it is going to be very, very good. And it is, the sauce is meaty and flavourful, the spaghetti is cooked just enough and not a second more. There is plenty of freshly grated parmesan.
What is even more delicious is the ambiance. A song singing, dancing Thing Two has produced the meal with determination and enthusiasm. Supper fell in her lap tonight because when we were in town yesterday for the square dancing workshop we made a quick stop in the grocery store. She saw a box of frozen meatballs and asked for it. I said no, and told her if she wanted meatballs I would buy some ground beef. She said yes. We came home with about a half a kilo of lean ground beef.
Today I remembered it was there and had to be cooked. Around two this afternoon I said, "So you are making meatballs for supper, right?"
" I don't know how to", says Thing Two with iPod in hand.
"Search for a recipe" says I.
Quiet Sunday afternoon and we both drift back to what we are doing. Around three I notice Thing Two is getting out her extensive wood project on the kitchen floor, a remarkable bark doll house for her niece and nephew which has been under construction for a week or so. I see supper preparations dropping off her to do list. So, says I, "Did you find a meatball recipe?" Small disappointment follows, then much searching and consulting. At some point Thing Two realizes that making meatballs actually requires handling the meat. Too gross to contemplate, on to plan B, a nice meaty spaghetti sauce.
She gets to the kitchen and discovers it is not in working order. The pot she needs for cooking the spaghetti hasn't been washed, nor the frying pans and a few other things. There is a temporary revolt. I stand my ground, administer hugs, agree that one of the things that is the pits about cooking is coming into the kitchen and finding it not ready to go. Suddenly, she is smiling, finding her apron and making amusing bubbles in the dishpan. Wow. Kudos to my favourite cook, Thing Two.
Over supper she tells me about the wonderful apple corer and peeler she got to use when we were at a local food movement workshop last fall. Helping to make the apple crisp there, she also learned about digestion and why the act of cooking is so healthy for us. While we cook, Thing Two reports, our digestive system is being primed with the secretions it will need to digest the food we are preparing. How cool is that?
I'm not going back in that dark room tonight. Chalk up some big we're fine, thanks Xs on the door. The other comment Thing Two made tonight, in among the "this is so exciting"s and the "my first spaghetti sauce"s and the "it's soo much fun"s and "what do you think?"s was, "You're teaching me how to look after myself when I leave home!"
My mouth was probably too full of spaghetti, mmm mmm good, for my brain to do anything but smile then, but I'll say it loud and clear now: I'm sure going to miss Thing Two when that day comes!
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