The Power of Cooking

This is what my son haughtily (well if I’m being HONEST, rudely) informed me one night when I was making a dinner that he was not interested in eating.  “Mom, I can eat what I want because I have the power of cooking now!”  I started teaching him to cook this summer and like most of my brilliant ideas, it came back to bite me when I least expected it.

This has been a hard summer and I’m not ashamed to admit I’m glad to see Fall approaching (yes, I will capitalize “Fall” because it’s my favorite season -summer sucks). My son is 10 and a little twitchy at times. This summer was heart wrenching on many levels – my son developed some new and alarming ticks that sent me into a whirl of high anxiety. He’s a very upbeat and excited kid, but it also comes with some nervous habits.

He started stretching his middle fingers and looked like he was flipping people off and then the head shaking began. I felt like I was coming undone. He was starting new summer camps and I envisioned phone calls from counselors asking me why my son was giving people ‘the bird’.  Or kids teasing him for violent head shaking. Luckily these things never came to fruition. But my stomach clenched every time it happened. And of course, that made the situation worse.

I thought maybe spending some time together in the kitchen might be a good idea.  We declared Wednesday “D—- Cooking Night” – and got down to it. He’s made a few things in the past, but usually doesn’t have the patience to sustain an entire cooking project.   As we started our first meal, I noticed that every time I approached him, he flinched and twitched.  A ball of lead dropped into my belly. Dear god – it was ME.  I was causing his anxiety. I was exacerbating his ticks.  He was nervous around ME. I wanted to crawl into a hole and cry – I felt so awful. Like awful-what-kind-of-a-mom-am-I-awful.  I tend towards reflection and intense introspection…and realized that my child spends a lot of his time having his behaviors corrected – and a lot of it is from me (I can barely write this without bursting into guilt-laden tears of grief).  I realized that I need to let my son make mistakes – come to things his own way and allow him the freedom to just be.  It’s hard – when your child is a little quirky, you so badly want them to be accepted and do ‘the right thing’  so as not to be teased..you forget that they are just people that need to be themselves.

It’s 3 months later – D—‘s finger and head ticks are virtually non-existent.  I’ve changed. He’s changed.  The other night, he waltzed into the kitchen, and with more confidence that I’ve ever seen in him, grabbed a knife and started cutting up lettuce for tacos.  I had to stop what I was doing and grab him for a hug.  I am so proud of him – and so sad for what my hyper-vigilance of the past had wrought in him. I wish I could have a do-over.  If I knew then what I know now, I’d have trusted myself more, trusted that he would be who he is and be wonderful.

He and I still have our moments – but like he told my friend the other day, after an outburst towards me, “You’ll have to excuse me, I’m going through maturity”.  Ya know what, dear child, me too. Me too.

Enchiladas a la D----!

Enchiladas a la D—-!

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About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in Childhood, Children, Cooking, Family, Food, grieving, Humor, love, Mental Health, Parenting, Random Thoughts, Relationships and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to The Power of Cooking

  1. Efrain says:

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  2. Maryann Graziano says:

    Parental guilt is just part of being a parent. They don’t come with instruction booklets and we have to react on the fly. That’s hard enough; then add in exhaustion, mood swings, stress and regret. We want to shelter them from anything that will hurt them, and yet we wind up hurting them. But, the hurt we cause is much less than if caused by others because deep down they know we love them unconditionally. There is no such thing as a “perfect” parent. There are no “do overs”. Be proud of the young man he has become, and don’t ever underestimate your contribution to that wonderfulness. XXOO

  3. This is such a sweet post, Ruta. I find myself being too critical of my kids too and I can only imagine that it gets harder as they get older and more is expected of them. Some days, it seems like every word out of my mouth is a warning, a “don’t do that” or an opinion on something they’re doing. It’s hard when your kid is precocious because we tend to think they’re capable of understanding more than they really are. My intentions are good because I just want to guide them and protect them the best I can but part of that is letting them be obnoxious mistake-making goofballs. They really just want to please us (like puppies). The fact that you recognized his anxiety and changed shows what a fantastic parent you are. You acknowledged that something needed to change in you and you led by example.

  4. El Guapo says:

    You get extra points for realizing what you were doing and stepping back to let your son figure it out himself.

    First time I cooked for my folks, way back when I first started cooking for a living, I made an ungodly mess in the kitchen. Hope your boy learns that skill too! 😀

  5. Twindaddy says:

    We’re all still learning to be better parents. Don’t beat yourself up.

  6. MissFourEyes says:

    Your son is awesome for having the power of cooking (and in general, I’m sure)! And you rock for teaching it to him. You’re a fantastic mom.

  7. Carrie Rubin says:

    Finding that balance between doing too much for our kids and not enough is what I’m finding the most challenging about raising older kids. They need to gain their independence and be given the space to do so. But as you allude, it’s our natural instinct to protect them.

    I’m so impressed that you found a way to pull back and examine the picture (although I suspect you’re being too hard on yourself!) and then make changes to improve things. That’s top-notch parenting in and of itself. And kudos to you for teaching your son to cook. I only with someone had done that for my husband… 😉

  8. Mom says:

    I’m still trying for a do-over with my kids. You’re too hard on yourself!!! I told your son this summer that we can’t change what happened yesterday, and we can’t worry about tomorrow but we can control what we do today. So just concentrate on doing your best in the moment.

  9. Oh, I love this, Denise. You’re just a great mom, that’s all, who cares about her son. What a good idea to starting cooking together. I know that takes a lot of patience. My sons help out sometimes, but it doesn’t last very long. I like the idea of giving the whole thing to them, although it could be spell disaster. I guess you must trust, like you said. xo

    • I do stay in the kitchen to supervise – but I’ve backed off a lot. When he was little he played ‘cooking school’ and would make an unholy mess on a towel on the floor – but I like contained mess…so it’s hard to let that go.

      Thanks – being a parent is HARD. WHY IS IT SO HARD? It seemed easy when I was kid…

  10. Maggie O'C says:

    Ruta, all moms wish for do-overs. You are an outstanding mom, come give my girls cooking lessons! xo

  11. rossmurray1 says:

    Dorian don’t wear no uniform, yo!

    I like this twice.

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