I’ve been handing over the spoons and kettles, a little more each year. I oversee, I do the tricky parts. Yesterday I announced to Sophia, as we walked home from the bus stop, that she’s cooking dinner that night. This provoked all sorts of jealousy among the boys, who also love cooking. They knew they’d get a minor role though, so all in all they were pleased.
“Get the chicken from the refrigerator, cut the plastic wrapping, drain the blood and rinse the inside and outside with running water. Oh yeah, and pull out the innards”.
“The innards, the internal organs that are included.”
The liver and heart plop out into the sink and Sophia remarks dryly, “I didn’t need to see that”.
I remember not to assemble the ingredients beforehand; that’s a temptation with kids, to lay it all out in a controlled, tight way. Because having other technicians in our tidy lab is jarring. But it’s all a part of the learning, right? To find things, to know where the tool to solve the problem lives.
I showed Sophia how to tuck a wing behind the back, she did the other. I drizzled olive oil over the bird and she rubbed it in, masseuse-like.
“Take a bit of the salt in your hand and rub it around the chest cavity”. Sophia peered into the fleshy cavern and jerked back.
“EWWW! MOM, I can’t put my hand in there”.
“You will do it. It’s part of cooking.” Sophia makes a sickly face. Reuben musters up some macho bravado and volunteers to do it.
“No, Reuben. Sophia will do it. You can do it next time.”
My daughter knows how stubborn I am. She also knows how big her heart swells with joy when she conquers a fear. In goes the salty hand, done. She smiles. We tie up the legs and sprinkle herbs atop and lay the whole bird in a bed of salt for roasting.
Sophia learns pancake making.
I learn how not to take over. Coffee helps.
I realized it, you know, how God lets me learn through messes. He’s so patient, so very patient.
There’s something in the end result that He loves that much, so much that it’s worth all the mistakes and false starts and dripping batter and all that time spent. Because, He doesn’t really need us, you know. Just like I don’t need my kids in the kitchen; in fact, I could get everything done in half the time with nigh half the mess. But the end of it would be that they wouldn’t know how to cook. And I wouldn’t have the pleasure of seeing them go from cracking the egg right down the cabinet front to cracking it with ease and confidence and whipping the whites into a perfect merengue.
We made a Christian Passover meal one year. We ground up the grains, we made the matzo bread, we roasted lamb, and made charoset.
We remembered Jesus’s broken body as we broke that matzo bread in pieces, we remembered his shed blood in the dry red wine. This food prepared together, with our own feeble hands and broken efforts and hope, brought us to remember Him who came to set us to rights, to reconcile us to the Father, to begin fashioning us now into His beautiful likeness, that we reflect His glory like the moon does the sun’s brightness. To join us to the patient Father who invites us to come and learn, who does not despise our weaknesses, but makes haste to cover them with His grace. I feel that side of Him when I hand my child another egg to crack after one is pooling at our feet on the hard tile floor.
May we teach as we are taught by God; patiently, lovingly, and with a smile.