Can I Get a “Thanks, Mom”?

Today was one of those days when I felt like the minivan was welded to my butt. Seth didn’t get up in time to walk to school, so I drove him, and then, as soon as school let out, he was on the phone to me having forgotten his baseball cleats. I drove them over to him at the high school but it turned out I had the wrong cleats (soccer, not our nation’s favorite pastime) so we had to come home again and while we were at it he had a piece of naan and a dish of fried rice and then I drove him to the field all the way on the other end of town and then I came back and got my 13-year old neighbor and drove him to the high school where he had a drum lesson (his mom was taking his sister to a doctor’s appointment and I was standing in), then I drove to the library and picked up some stuff that was on hold for me then I drove to the baseball field and watched the game (they won) and then, after trying in vain to make eye contact with Seth to see if he needed a ride to his other mom’s house and failing completely, I assumed he was either walking with friends or getting a ride on a bus or something, and I drove home. As I walked in, the phone was wringing or even ringing and of course it was Seth, wanting a ride. After sharing with him a few choice words, I motored off, lamenting our fossil-fuel-driven lifestyle and brainstorming to myself how to do a better job not burning so much of the damn stuff in the future.

Seth was very quiet in the car despite my friendly attempts to make conversation. Lately, I’ve been prompting him to thank me when I ferry him about rather than just allowing him to escape in an entitled and rude fashion. “Can I get a ‘Thanks, Mom’?” I’ll say cheerfully, and, without doubt, incredibly annoyingly, right up there with when I put words in his mouth like, “I’m glad you asked that question, Mom – I do have some homework tonight, and I’m going to get right after it.” Anyway, he usually grunts out some version of ty, and it’s amazing how satisfying that is. Everybody tends to take these little things for granted, the rides, the snacks, the being at home and checking in. Around this time of year, they get a little lip service, maybe a card, maybe breakfast in bed, but in general, the lubrication of the family is fairly invisible and unremarked upon. Even I tend to forget how hard I’m working and how important it is – what a gift it is to all concerned, me included – that I am able to be a stay-at-home mom. If I don’t bring my contribution to the family to light, all my important work might remain unremarked upon by my boys and (shudder) they might go out into the world expecting women to wait on them. So I will keep putting those words in their mouths, and you know what? Every once in a while, unbidden, like an offering, a song, a sacred poem, there they are, issuing from the mouths of surly teens unprompted and every time they do, a little more of the good stuff leaks into the world. Can I get an “Amen!”? Amen!

Published in: on May 9, 2012 at 6:09 PM  Comments (2)  
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Furious Cuisine, or Get Out of My Life, But First Can I Use Your Champagne to Make Some Gastrique?*

Tuesday last, Owen came home with two of his nerdy little friends and demanded, in a most rude and entitled way, that I drive them over to Marsden’s house. I had other demands on my time, including needing to figure out dinner, so I declined. Forcefully, and I didn’t like his tone, Mister. Then, in a fit of ire, I went even further and forbade him from going with the little rats, once it had been determined that they had no interest in staying here, preferring the paradise of Marsden’s palatial and amply-supplied-with-screens abode. In the kerfluffle, both of us forgot that Owen actually couldn’t go, as he had a trumpet lesson, to which I then dragged him with great difficulty.

After the lesson, Owen wouldn’t speak to me. I went about my business, knowing he would come around eventually, and after a while he stomped into the basement and came back up with a package of Korean ramen from Tex’s secret stash (forbidden to the rest of us mortals). He banged about at the stove and cooked himself up a doctored bowl of noodles (he added tofu and veggies). When he came up from the basement, he blatantly displayed the package, just so I would know just exactly what he was doing and how angry he was. But that wasn’t all. After he’d eaten his noodles, he stomped over to the computer, printed something out, and then was rustling about in the basement again. He came crashing back up with the bottle of champagne a friend gave me for my 50th birthday. Turns out, he had a plan to make gastrique, and it needs wine. I explained the difference between champagne and wine and sent him next door to borrow the 2 tablespoons of red from our beloved neighbor. Some time and much excitement with the immersion blender later (I’m still finding splatters), Owen had a lovely gastrique, with which he wowed dinner guests on Friday and which has been enhancing bread and cheese, ice cream, and meat ever since. And of course, cooking cheered him up, and soon he was once again the cheerful young person we know him to be.

From furious cuisine to completely serene. For a mom who spends a good deal of time reading self-help books, especially Buddhist self-help books, that grumpy afternoon was quite a lesson. Who needs Pema Chodron when you’ve got Owen in the house?

*With a tip o’ the cursor to Dr. Anthony E. Wolf’s beloved parenting book, Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager

Gastrique a la Owen Chodron

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 shallot, peeled and minced

2 cups fruit (he chiseled out some ancient frozen berries)

2-3 tablespoons sugar, depending on how sweet your fruit is

3 tablespoons wine or cognac

3 tablespoons vinegar

generous pinch of salt

Melt butter in small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients

Bring juice to boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer until fruit is very tender.

If using berries, strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds. Otherwise, puree mixture.

Taste and adjust seasoning and tartness.

Published in: on May 7, 2012 at 11:05 AM  Leave a Comment  
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