Friday, August 22, 2008

Recipe and Motherly Musing

First, Juliene's stream of consciousness

Phil left for another week in Sweden. I thought this would be a great week to get caught up; to pull everything out of cupboards and closets for thinning and reorganizing without tripping him up. It would also be a good time to write on my weird schedule without interruptions from his regimented contracting schedule (he eats breakfast and lunch on time, I want to write until the muse leaves, then eat).

I planned on cleaning out the odd bits of leftovers from the refrigerator and freezer since I would only be cooking for Hunter and myself. Well, the first day Phil was gone, we ate leftovers. The second day Hunter spent with his grandmother while I visited the eye doctor. We enjoyed dinner out, Monday night. The next day, WHAM! Hunter was down with the stomach flu and my plans were on hold.

My growing boy, who eats more than I do, suddenly ate nothing. Sometimes fluids didn’t even stay down. I tried to put things away, do laundry and freeze more huckleberries. It was silly to try to do so much when my lethargic and feverish son caused so many emergency laundry runs, er, I mean, loads. I washed my hands until they felt like sandpaper. Meals consisted of taking quiet moments eating a bit of toast or fruit over the one sterilized sink.

We did what we could to pass the time: Watched endless children’s shows on TV and movies, constructed Knex creations with the intent to power them with a small, battery operated motor (successfully, I might add), and shooed prospective visitor’s away for their own sakes. Sleep was hit and miss for both of us (more miss for me).

It was especially eerie the night his temperature continued rising as we watched a PBS special on chimpanzees. The show was a nice diversion, but I was fussing about, trying to avoid the use of acetomenaphin or the tepid bath (something about as fun to administer as giving the cat a bath). Before I put Hunter to bed, I opted to use the fever reducer and a cold cloth dabbed over his back, chest and face. Weary, I put Hunter to bed, worrying a little that he might overheat after a 101 degree F. day and sleeping under a down comforter. I didn’t worry enough to keep me from falling into bed and sleeping hard! I vowed to check his temperature (and breathing) several times in the night (Hunter insisted I check his temperature every five minutes after the fever reducer), but only managed to check it at 2:30 am—it was down, but not yet normal.

The fever was gone mid-morning the next day, but the stomach was still touchy. This is confusing to a young boy because he wants to run and play and needs nourishment, but his body does not respond well to either. We had to cancel his second and third days of swimming lessons, much to Hunter’s dismay. He drank Powerade all day, and only ate applesauce and chicken noodle soup for dinner.

Chicken noodle soup became the staple for the next few meals. Whatever we didn’t eat the meal before, became my leftovers when Hunter would say he couldn’t eat. I was relieved when we ran out. I decided to have something a bit heftier while Hunter begged off eating.


Here’s where the recipe comes in (recommended for one-person at-home meal): I found a Banquet (microwavable) Turkey Pot pie, from a recent sale, out of the freezer. I scored the crust, per the instructions on the box, and put it in the microwave for half or less of the recommended cooking time. During 2 ½ minutes of cooking, I checked my kitchen freezer and garage freezer for frozen peas (the peas are the hidden treasure in these pies, but you only get one to three in each pie) and grabbed a small, fresh crook neck squash from the garden.

By the time the bell rang, I had cut ¼ cup of quartered slices of crook neck. I peeled a bit of the crust back (since then, I’ve found it works better if you score the crust in an X, then lay back each triangle for this part), poured in about 1/8 cup of peas (or just eyeball it) and the slices of squash, gently stirred the veggies into the sadly meat-poor gravy, then put the crust in place. Back in the microwave, I set the timer to cook again on HIGH and for 3 ½ more minutes. (For the second cooking time, it may be best to cover with a microwave cover to keep more of the moisture in—it can get a little dry, otherwise.)

When that was done, I let it sit the recommended three more minutes (I figured the steam would help finish steaming the frozen peas, especially).

Only after I had devoured this scrumptious variation on a childhood memory, and felt smug about my use of veggies, did I read the back label to find that I had eaten 320 calories, plus those from the veggies, 190 calories of which were from fat. For someone who is edging closer to being more serious about weight watching and pounding a daily hour of pavement, the caloric content of this dish was a bit daunting. Nevertheless, I did it again when I didn’t feel like cooking something more fresh and time-consuming. Only, the second time, I ended the meal with a fresh, juicy peach.

Enough about food (one of my favorite subjects, especially when I’m not having to cook it).


I’m reading a book: Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World, by Jill Rigby. It’s got me thinking about my parenting style and what I unconsciously teach Hunter even when I would like to teach him to make the world a better place. In fact, my brain didn’t stop at the last four and a half years of mothering, but twenty three and a half years!

What has been my parenting style? The “Deflector” who “ ‘deflects’ their role as parents onto their children by asking their kids to make decisions they are not yet capable of making.” The “Depriver,” who “deprives children of what they need either by doing too little or doing too much?” or the “Developer,” who develops “children by giving them what they need, when they need it” (pp. 54 and 55)?

Clearly, I have done a little of all three but tend to resort to the depriver by either neglecting my children (by being busy doing my own thing, getting a degree, writing, working around the house instead of sitting down with them during teaching moments, etc.). I find myself dealing with Hunter much the same as I did my oldest daughter. They both play nicely on their own or like to spend hours with friends, so I let them do this while I work at other things. This is not bad, but I can sometimes rely on it too many hours a day, oftentimes stretching those times by resorting to the television babysitter. When we do sit down together, sometimes we are both at a loss about what to do after Hunter, like Natassja did, begs for me to “play with him.”

The big lesson, yesterday, was that the little neighborhood children wouldn’t play with Hunter when he asked them to play. They were busy (two of them) playing together and had been all week. Every time Hunter sought them out, they would either duck into one or the other’s garage out of sight, or yell across the street that they didn’t want to play with him. This, of course, broke Hunter’s sensitive little heart. But he couldn’t stop wishing to play with them.

Finally, after too many rounds of rejection and Hunter’s asking again if he could play, I said, “No!”

He cried as if I had pierced his already broken heart, crying, “Why, Mommy?”

I asked, in return, “What would you rather hear, ‘We don’t want to play with you!’ or “No, you can’t play with your friends.”

Still crying, he wailed, “I would rather hear, ‘Yes!’ and ‘We want to play with you, Hunter.”

I told him a story:

“Pretend a dog visited our yard every day. You liked the dog and ran out to pet it. But whenever you pet the dog, he bit you, even to the point of making you bleed. After awhile, your mommy would say, ‘Don’t go out and pet the dog anymore, he keeps hurting you.’ That’s what your friends are doing. They are hurting you. You need to play with someone else.”

“But,” sniffed Hunter, “it’s not a dog. They’re my friends! WAAAAAAAA.”

We called the back neighbor and spent an hour or so visiting, trading the baby back and forth, and letting the boys wrestle, chase and tease. That helped. I work at being a developer and help Hunter find even more positive experiences with other children. This is time-consuming and I feel like I’ve done it before (because I have) with my older children, but I need to take the time to do it again.

After all of this, we had only a half an hour before bedtime. I invited Hunter to try out every stringed instrument in the house: a ukulele, an auto harp, a citara from Brazil, and the piano. He enjoyed trying the differences and discovering each new instrument and where it was in the house. The half hour passed quickly and we had both enjoyed each other and the strings. It felt better “developing” instead of sighing over not having the time to do my own things.

I know I can’t be my son’s only friend, but I can use what time we do have together to be more purposeful. It takes energy I don’t often feel I have, but the sense of accomplishment and togetherness outweighs the difficulty.

We enjoyed a meal of hamburgers, carrots and pear instead of soup or pot pies. We met a new little boy at Hunter’s swim lesson. And Hunter showed a positive attitude about trying what the swim instructor assigned in the water—even jumping off the deeper side of the pool into the instructor’s arms! It was a difficult but good day.

No comments: