Friday, Fri-yay: August 10th, 2018

& (1)So, while last week was technically our vacation – spent in Florida, with family and at a variety of parks – this is officially the wind-down (or as close to it as a parent ever gets).  Bear was well-behaved (for the most part) during the trip, but between wrangling him, losing my state ID, and the over-all stress of travel, I think we arrived back in Massachusetts more exhausted then when we left.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t all bad:

 

First, Florida.  Andy’s Aunt Becky was gracious enough to arrange to meet us at Magic Kingdom to sort of show us the ropes; she’s got an annual pass, and lives about ten minutes from the parks, and she gets her money’s worth.  We got a ton of professional photos done – many of which haven’t come in yet – and Bear got to meet a lot of his favorite characters:

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(I’m still waiting on Chip and Dale, Goofy, Merida, Aladdin and Jasmine, Daisy, and Donald.  But Bear really got around this week – the best ones will find their way to my Insta in fits and starts later this week).

Bear was thrilled to meet all the characters – he didn’t get super shy like I saw some of the other little kids getting, but he was definitely a little star-struck.  My favorite of his interactions was with Merida, in which he tried to convince her to shoot an arrow into her target, and then proceeded to show he a “new” way to shoot an arrow.  She spent a comparatively long time with him – we’ve got a total of 21 shots from that photo op, though I sadly don’t have access to them at the moment.  Definitely keep an eye on my Instagram over the next week or so if you want to see the best shots.

As Florida consumed most of the last week, the only other (non-Florida related thing I can think of to “yay” about is that, two years after hearing him debut the song on the Night Vale Live tour (and falling in love with it), Danny Schmidt finally released his song “Standard Deviation” as the Weather on the latest WTNV:

Oh, and I guess this counts, even though I definitely mentioned it in the Fri-yay post immediately after I bought the ticket, but FanExpo Boston is tomorrow, and my major goals are, 1.) get into the Jeff Goldblum Q & A, and 2.) get into the Steven Universe cast panel.  I’ll let you all know how that goes, but it should be a good time regardless.

How has your week been?  If you’ve got kiddos, are they still on summer vacay, or are they back at school?  I’m off until the 27th now, and my students will be back the 29th.

Until next time, guys.

A Little Boy’s Haircut

I’ve been procrastinating writing this post for a month because I wasn’t quite sure what direction I wanted it to take.  If it’s a mess, I apologize in advance (and also: welcome to my life, where most things are a mess).

When my husband came home from his last haircut a little less than a month ago, my son suddenly announced that he wanted a “daddy-sized” haircut.

My husband and I looked at each other.  My son’s crowning glory was his hair, the first things people always remarked on – dirty blonde, wild, curly, and beautiful.  Aside from trimming his bangs for safety reasons, he had never had his hair cut – we decided early on that, so long as health and safety wasn’t a concern, he would let him take the lead and make his own choices about his body, including his hair.  Until that moment, he’d never expressed interest in getting it cut.

But he was insistent.  We want to respect our son, but his also three, and his whims and wishes can change on a near-constant basis.  We compromised and told him that if he still felt that way in three days (which would be a Saturday), we would take him that morning to get his haircut.  He seemed cool with that.

So we waited.  And each day, we asked him if he still wanted to get his haircut, and the answer continued to be a resounding and increasingly enthusiastic “yes.”  So, that Saturday morning we gave his curls one last shampoo, loaded him into the car, and headed to the barber shop.

Now, I was already experiencing a sort of, let’s say, melange of emotions – excitement for Bear growing up and asserting his bodily autonomy, anticipation of what my little guy would look like with his newly shorn locks, and a little sadness and trepidation at this very concrete sign of my baby growing up.  I wouldn’t say I “got emotional” – I didn’t cry – but I felt things, you know?  Good things, proud things, bittersweet things.

Unfortunately, some less-than-positive feelings crept in once we got to the barber shop.

I probably should have expected it; maybe on some level I did.  I had a history with this place; I’d started going there a few years prior myself, because they gave a good haircut for significantly cheaper than the stylist who I went to for years, primarily out of a misplaced sense of obligation.  My stylist was a wonderful woman, and very talented, but she couldn’t seem to wrap her head around the severity of the cuts I would ask for.  I eventually figured that going someplace accustomed to giving primarily masculine cuts would be better suited to my needs.  I was right; they gave me exactly the cut I wanted.

But they asked my husband’s permission, first.  Like, checked in to see that it was okay.  And then, insisted that I had to be wrong when I told them I wanted a number 1 razor cut (1/8 of an inch, which is what I sport to this day), because “that’s really short.”  But, regardless – I got it.  They did it, to my liking, and it was cheap to boot.

And then they reassured me that it still looked “feminine.”  Which, first off, no it didn’t, and that was part of the point, but secondly – I sought out a severe razor cut at a barbershop.  Why do you think I need or want reassurance about looking “feminine?”  Say it looks good, say it suits me, but please, don’t feel the need to reassure my “femininity.”

The barber – who was new since our last visit, and whom we didn’t know – did a double-take when he saw my son – I’m pretty sure he thought Bear was a girl, and was having trouble wrapping his head around the cut we requested for him, which was an unpleasant case of deja vu from my own experiences.  The other barbers, who remember me and my son, expressed amused surprise that they were confused because “they thought I had a boy.”

They cajoled my husband – “I bet you’re happy to finally get this done!”  “Bet you’ve been waiting for this!” “You’ll have a son again!” – while we were left to just smile and continuously repeat, “It’s his body, so we left the choice up to him.” “His daddy had long hair for years.”  “We weren’t going to push him if he liked his hair long.”

I want to be fair – I want to be fair to them as people and as professionals without letting them off the hook.  There was not – in any way, or by any means – any trace of intended malice behind their words.  They were not sneering, they were not judging, they were not admonishing.  They were gentle and patient with my son.  They were understanding of my feelings as a mom, seeing her baby taking a significant step into older childhood.

That does not erase my discomfort.  That doesn’t change the fact that I spent the whole time hoping upon hope that my son wasn’t listening and internalizing the message that little boys can’t have long hair, or that little boys (or girls, or anyone above, beyond, or in-between) can’t present themselves in any damn way they please.  That it had to be mom, holding tenaciously to his long hair.  That dad must be rejoicing in finally “having his son back.”

My son, thankfully, seemed too entranced with is own changing reflection (and asking the barber literally a dozen questions a minute) to really take in the conversation going on around him.  That was a relief.  My son left the barber shop smiling, pleased as all get-out with his new haircut, and we went home.

Again, I’m not trying to paint these people as villains, or the experience as life-changingly traumatic – they are people or a certain age and a certain disposition, and I was at best annoyed and at worst uncomfortable – and my son didn’t notice at all.  But I also don’t want to let them off the hook.  People need to be aware of what they say around children.  People offering a service need to have some sort of awareness of their customers circumstance and be sensitive to it.  Gender is a complicated subject for me, I readily admit that, and I don’t necessarily expect people to realize that on an individual level.

But that’s just it – gender is a complicated subject.  Gender presentation (and personal presentation in general) is a complicated subject.  Discovering who you are and how you want to express yourself in the world is a complicated subject.  Be aware of that when you speak.  Especially in front of a child, whose joys and passions and pride in self can be so easily squashed be a few careless words from grown-ups telling them it’s not something they can/should like or do because of what they were born as.

(Oh, but also – consent is not complicated.  When I said it was my son’s choice, I meant it.  Please do not gloss that over and assume I must have been either pressuring him or holding him back.  He made a choice.  Don’t dismiss it).

Bear’s Weekly Book Haul: July 19th, 2018

Bear's book haulWe had several set backs involving Bear’s book-borrowing, the first of which is, the library we use asked us for updated information and we had to give them our current address – which is no longer in the same city as said library (we’ve moved to a neighboring city since the card was issued).  That’s not a big deal – we’re part of a consortium, and can borrow from any of the participating libraries on any card – but we do have to have a card issued by our hometown library.

This happened last Wednesday while we were choosing Bear’s books, and we were not allowed to check them out until we got our new card.  The librarian said she would hold the books for us until then.  It took Andy until this Wednesday before he had the time to get to the library and make the change, and by the time he made it to pick up the books, they had just (within the preceding half-hour, according to the librarian) released them.  Ugh.

No great tragedy though, since this allowed Andy to pick out some new books, a few of which were chosen specifically in anticipation of our Florida trip in less than two weeks.  Bear’s been on a plane before but he was 8 months old, and slept/nursed through most of it, so this will be the first flight he (may) be able to really remember.

Anyway, on to the haul!

Oh!  Before I forget: highlight of last haul was unequivocally Crunch, the Shy Dinosaur.  It was yet another participatory book, where the reader interacts with Crunch, and my son – who loves chatting people up, making noise, and dinosaurs – adored it.  He even brought it to bed with him and “read” it to himself more than once.

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Ok, now, this week for real!

Harriet Gets Carried Away, by Jessie Sima
GoodReads:  Harriet loves costumes. She wears them to the dentist, to the supermarket, and most importantly, to her super-special dress-up birthday party. Her dads have decorated everything for the party and Harriet has her most favorite costume all picked out for the big day. There’s just one thing missing—party hats!  But when Harriet dons her special penguin errand-running costume and sets out to find the perfect ones, she finds something else instead—real penguins! Harriet gets carried awaywith the flock. She may look like a penguin, but she’s not so sure she belongs in the arctic. Can Harriet manage her way back to her dads (and the party hats!) in time for her special day?

Prickly Hedgehogs! by Jane McGuinness
GoodReads:  When the sun has set, Hedgehog’s day has only just begun. She’s out and about, snuffling through layers of leaves and twigs as she searches for bugs and other things to eat. Young animal lovers will enjoy following Hedgehog and her little hoglets through towns and gardens, parks and woodland, as they sniff-sniff-sniff for food.

Dinosoaring, by Deb Lund
GoodReads:
  But to get airborne, they need a plan. They dinoblow. They run, push, leap, flap-and take flight! The sky becomes their stage, as they join an air show. Zipping and zooming and dancing on wings, the dinos are soon upside down and dinosick! They decide to bail, hoping their dinochutes will work. They dino-do!

Planes Fly!, by George Ella Lyon
GoodReads:  Take to the skies with this fun, rhyming book about all that planes do! From jet planes to puddle jumpers, from the cockpit to the rudders, this book explores it all—and the bright, dynamic illustrations will keep even the youngest of readers engaged.

My First Airplane Ride, by Patricia Hubbell
GoodReads:  A first airplane ride can be very exciting! Watching planes take off and land, going through security, walking the jet way, finding the right seat, watching out the window as the plane taxis down the runway, and flying up high in the sky and then, at the other end, Grandma waiting with a hug!

The Town of Turtles, by Michelle Cuevas
GoodReads:  When a solitary turtle decides to make some renovations to his shell, he doesn’t have a blueprint, only a dream for a better life. He starts by building a deck—though he figures the deck could use a fireplace. And a fireplace needs wood, so naturally, he plants a garden. But it isn’t really a garden without a pond . . . Soon, Turtle can barely recognize his own shadow.  Finally satisfied with the intricate world upon his back, word begins to spread of the magical “Town of Turtle,” attracting newcomers from far and wide. All are welcome in Turtle’s town, where life is a little less lonely, if only you come out of your shell.

Feel Good Friday/Friday Faves: July 14th, 2018

onnie & CaroleYes, yes, I know – it’s Saturday again.  I keep doing this.  This week, my excuse is that my whole schedule has gotten flipped upside down.  I spent a week out of work, and then had to adjust to a weird schedule of working only Tuesday and Thursday; we spent our Wednesday as a family out and about (which made it feel more like a Saturday), and to top it all off, my husband was covering a co-worker’s vacation and was working 2pm to 11pm instead of his usual 8am to 5pm.  So my whole week – and concept of time – has been thrown out of whack.

Here is what’s kept me grounded:

First, Wednesday was spent at Kimball Farm, which was a blast.  I hadn’t been there in several years (we did a community outing there during one of the other ESY programs I worked), and it really has something for everyone.  Bear got his first taste of mini-golf, he got to see some animals (and pet an alligator!), and spent some time earning tickets in the arcade.  He ended the day with a huge scoop of Orange-Pineapple ice cream.  I have a couple of small pics on Insta here.

Second, my sister spent hours online last night messaging me eBay links to long forgotten tech toys we had as kidsThe Teach-Me Reader and The Videosmarts Learning System to name a couple – and ended the evening by announcing that her 1984 Whiz Kid Toy Computer would be arriving on Thursday.  Seriously?  I still can’t believe she actually bought it, but I’d be lying if I pretended I wasn’t going to play with it.  I had one prior to first grade, and I loved it.  We can learn to spell together!

Third, Andy ordered me laminating sheets and I’m going crazy thinking of things I need to laminate.  All my checklists from my previous post have already gotten the treatment, and I’m busy designing both additional checklists and organizers for me, but also piecing together a preschool curriculum for Bear that we can get started, hopefully on Monday.  He’s looking forward to it, and so am I.  I plan on spending a big chunk of time after he turns in tonight getting some of those tasks completed.

Finally, the GISH registration has been extended and my team is starting to take shape (yeah, kind of late this year).  If you don’t know what GISH is, click the link or Google search its previous incarnation, GISHWHES.  It’s a massive multimedia international scavenger hunt interested in subversive art and acts of kindness.  This year it runs July 28th through August 4th.  I’m thrilled to see it brought back – we thought last year was the end!  – and am participating for the seventh year in a row.

That’s it for this week!  What’s kept you going through the week?

Preschool Shows that Don’t Drive Me Crazy

Guys, sometimes, I just want to sit.  That’s it. I want to sit and not have to do anything for an hour.  And I don’t care what your attitude is toward screen time, but come one – those are the moments television was made for.  

With a pre-schooler, though, I have to be careful what I put on.  We do have a small repertoire of “adult” shows that we can watch around Bear (we are very conscious of on-screen content (violence, sex), but are more lenient on curse words – if you want to know my philosophy about kids and cursing, here’s a great article on Scary Mommy that sums it up pretty well), but more often than not, it’s just easier to turn on a show for Bear and just veg out.  But man, some of those shows will drive you up a wall. Like, I literally watched one episode of Word Party and swore – out loud – “Never again!”

I’m always on the lookout for good shows for Bear that won’t drive Andy and I up a wall.  Here are some we’ve found so far, and if you have a favorite or two, please share with me in the comments below!

Peppa_PigPeppa Pig:  I was shocked – shocked, I tell you! – when I learned that Peppa Pig was a divisive show.  Some people think it’s cute and charming, and some people seem to think that the show (or at least Peppa) is obnoxious.*  Personally, I love how simple and linear the stories are, how they’re just small, simplified, slices of life that are easy for even the littlest kids to appreciate and  relate to. The animation and character design is very reminiscent of the drawings of young children (lines are always just a little hastily drawn, done in bright primaries, and heads attach directly to bulbous middles, with stick figure arms and legs), and the stories are very, very small (in both scope and length) and self contained (and minimally narrated), so that even the youngest viewers can follow them.

*Honestly, I find Peppa to be probably one of the more honest portrayals of a pre-schooler I’ve ever seen.  She’s not especially twee, she’s not incredibly precocious, and she’s mostly well-behaved with a bit of a bossy streak (if anything, maybe too well-behaved).  You want an obnoxious children’s show character? Watch Callilou. Lord. I never understood the Callilou hatred until I had reason to watch the show. He is obnoxious, shrill, and unbearable.

39b4ae343e1bd7c525491c1a99efa07b--school-tv-pre-schoolSarah & Duck:  This is a show from the BBC that we stumbled upon on Netflix, and it’s wonderful.  Sarah is a little girl who seemingly lives alone with her duck companion, Duck, in a quirky, pastel-shaded world of magical realism:  ordinarily mundane things like a trip to the park, visiting a neighbor, or buying bread are livened up by charmingly odd characters and idiosyncratic storylines: objects spontaneously gain sentience, neighbors live in houses constructed of knitted wool, noisy pipes take to being conducted like an orchestra, etc.  The animation and characters designs and unique and dreamlike, and when we first discovered it, Andy and I watched this show long after Bear had gone to bed.

pegcatPeg + Cat:  This one is a lot more blatantly “edu-tainment,” but that’s not necessarily a bad thing; honestly, Sesame Street is technically “edu-tainment,” and it’s a cultural touchstone.  Peg is a young girl who solves logic, math, and various mechanical problems using reasoning and trial and error, along with her pet cat, Cat, and an eclectic cast of characters (including Beethoven, Cleopatra, a pair of giants, and a opera-singing pig who loves triangles).  It’s quirky, has fun musical numbers, and can be surprisingly clever. I also love that Peg eschews feminine stereotypes (she enjoys and is good at math, etc.) and has moments of true gender-nonconformity (wear suits instead of dresses, etc). The show airs on PBS Kids and can be watched through their (free) app.

puffin-rockPuffin Rock:  Surprisingly educational and full of lovely Irish accents (including narration by Chris O’Dowd, who I have loved since The IT Crowd) and sweet stories, I love Puffin Rock for the same reason I like most of the shows on this list – it’s a nice break from the frantic, fast-paced media I feel like kids are confronted with all the time.  I mean, there’s a time and place for that stuff, I’m not “morally opposed” to it or anything, it’s just… nice to have a break from it. The stories are simple narratives with clear problems and solutions, and introduce and teach about a number of animals that are native to the region. The stories are about problem solving and friendship without being preachy or overly sentimental.  

truerainbowTrue and the Rainbow Kingdom:  This, I think, is also going to be divisive, but I think this show is a-freakin’-dorable.  The animation style is somewhere between Japanese “kawaii” design and an Emoji aesthetic, full of vibrant colors and cute creatures.  The show is a faster paced show and a lot more visually busy than many on the list, but it really is super, super cute, with fun songs and enjoyable characters.  True solves problems through the use of wishes, little creatures that serve very specific purposes according to her very specific needs, but really, she solves problems by taking a step back, clearing her mind, and talking through the problem at hand.  That’s nice. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the heros who charge ahead with no forethought and no plan, and I think it’s important that my son sees someone who makes it a point to center herself and reason through things before charging ahead.

What are your favorite shows to watch with your kids?  Old favorites, new finds?  Please let me know!

Not a Toys R Us Kid

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Were you all bombarded with Toys R Us memes on your social media channels last week? It seriously felt like everyone I knew was posting “childhood ruined” or “childhood over” statuses in honor of Toys R Us finally closing its doors.

I feel of two minds about it, because I’m genuinely sad to see brick and mortar stores close down because of the on-line shopping boom – especially because I’m not exactly thrilled about Amazon’s business practices – but at the same time, I’m a parent on a budget, and, well, I recently realized why my parents never took us there.

Ok, so I shouldn’t say never. I’d been to Toys R Us as a kid, but it was a rarity. I was blown away by the bouts of nostalgia some of my friends had about Toys R Us, where trips there were staples of their childhood – every week after church, every time Grandpa visited, every year for their birthday, etc. That was definitely not my experience.

And again, I get it. We were little goblins as kids – tiny hedonists in Osh-Kosh-Begosh, with no concept of money and no concerns except our own wants and needs – you take one of those creatures into a toy store and tell them you’re “just browsing,” I dare you. If you’re a family tight on cash, like mine was growing up, all you’re really doing is basically inviting your goblin kid to have a meltdown. My parents were smarter than that.

But being that is was “the end of an era,” and they were having some pretty decent sales, Andy and I decided to take Bear there a couple of weeks ago to see if we could score some good deals for him.

We weren’t in the store for five minutes when my husband siddled up next to me, pointing conspiratorially at a toy display on the back wall.

“Hey,” he raised his eyebrows. “Guess how much those things are.”

The back wall display was a collection of animatronic tigers (I had to look them up for this post; they were Hasbro’s FurReal Roarin’ Tyler, the Playful Tiger). I’ve played this game with Andy before; he never asks that question because something is an astonishing deal. I tried to think of a number that would be bordering on ridiculous. My first guess was $80. He jabbed his thumb toward the ceiling.

“Higher.”

I raised my eyebrows. $100?

Higher.

After I guessed $120 and that still wasn’t on the mark, I literally asked if he was freakin’ kidding me (I may have used slightly stronger language) and had to go over to the display to look myself. $130. That’s… well, that’s over a week’s worth of groceries for us, for starters. Imagine making that choice: Okay, kids, we can either buy this tiger toy, or we can eat this week, which is it??

Look, I’m all for treating your kids. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my fair share of trendy gadgets and gizmos growing up, further lying if I said I didn’t have a great time with some of those toys, and hell – lying still if I tried to deny that I don’t still go down the toy aisle of every store I’m in, poking and prodding at anything and everything that moves, beeps, or buzzes.

And my parents did it – not often, but more than once – they went out an bought the exorbitantly priced piece of plastic because we begged for it, and they wanted to make us happy. Here’s how that went down:

  1. We are thrilled. This is the only toy we ever want to play with ever for the history of time.
  2. Piece of plastic does it’s spiel for a few days. It’s fun, experimenting with it and seeing what it can do.
  3. We start getting more rambunctious with it – if it’s a vehicle, we engage it in riskier and riskier driving scenarios, likely off of higher and higher pieces of furniture, or over different terrain – like, say, submerged in water. If it’s an animal/doll, it’s probably joy riding or performing parkour because we’ve decided it’s secretly a spy/superhero/super villain/secret agent.
  4. As a secret agent, it needs a new identity. If it has any hair or fur whatsoever, it gets cut/shaved (if it’s a vehicle, it gets a new paint job. Wet ‘n Wild nail polish was a popular favorite).
  5. Eventually some important component (most likely an appendage of some sort – an arm/a tire, etc.) breaks off, or –
  6. The internal speaker breaks, or –
  7. It runs out of batteries, and our parents thank Christ that that’s over, and never, ever replace them, and-
  8. We are left with a hunk of plastic that now no longer does anything special.

And you know what? The kids will still play with it, because kids want to create stories and interact with memorable characters, and they have the capacity to imagine and create such characters and story lines out of literally anything – just watch a couple of pre-schoolers with a cardboard box. And that’s awesome.

But now you’re out the $130 for a toy that no longer does any of the things that supposedly made it “worth” $130 dollars.

Look, we’ll all do it. If you think I won’t spend a stupid amount of money on a toy Bear “has” to have someday, you’re probably wrong. This isn’t a call out post, or a judgement post. It’s just a “think about it” post. How many of those toys does a kid need? How often do you have to break the bank to get your kid a toy that will almost definitely have all it’s “special features” destroyed in short order? How long will the beeps and buzzes keep them entertained?

You know what my son’s most played with toys are? Any kind of figurine. The one’s that retail for $15 a pop get as much play as the ones that came free in his Happy Meals or from The Dollar Tree. He really doesn’t care.

Imagination will find a way.

My Picky Eater in the Kitchen

I’ve never been a picky eater; at least not that I can recall.  My parents, too, seem to remember me being pretty open to new culinary experiences even as a kid, and as I’ve grown, my appreciation for new flavors has only increased.  I love trying out new recipes, new restaurants, and new cultural cuisine.

Which puts me squarely at odds with Bear, whose agenda seems to be “all carbs, all the time.”

And trust me, no one loves carbs more than I do.  But it’s the same carbs. And it’s bland carbs – grilled cheese on white bread, shoestring fries, white toast, buttered noodles, mac and cheese (but only Annie’s, not homemade.  God forbid, homemade). My husband, whose palate, as an adult, is just as expansive as mine, reassures me that he went through a lengthy phase as a “picky eater” when he was a kid, so, rest assured, Bear will grow out of it.

And, I mean, Bear is three-and-a-half.  Lots of kids his age have their safety foods, their comfort food, their routine.  I know it. I get it.

But man, is it frustrating.

Then, the other night, something happened.

I often get overwhelmed in the kitchen, especially when prepping a new meal.  I have trouble following recipes as they are typically written, and will often skip steps and have to backtrack, or forget to prep an ingredient before it’s immediately needed, and inevitably, I will have to read and re-read a step several times.  I either make a dozen trips to the fridge, frantically grabbing and returning items, or let things pile up on the counter and just hope at the end I’ll remember to make sure it all makes it back to the fridge (meanwhile, growing frustrated with the clutter).  So, given the already inherent frustration, it’s been a general rule that Bear stays out of the kitchen while I’m cooking.

But the other night, I was making enchiladas – a pretty low-stress meal, as I’d made it before – and Bear wanted to help.  Being that I don’t want to raise a boy who has no homemaking or self-sufficiency skills, cooking is pretty high on the list of things I want him to learn.  And if he’s actively interested and pro-actively asking about it, how can I discourage that?

I sat him a safe distance from the stove, but close enough that he could see what I was doing in the pan, and narrated each step as I completed it (Bear’s constant chorus of “What are you doing?” every time I moved spurred me along).  He helped as much as he could, wen he could; he gave the onions and garlic a stir. He opened the package of tortillas.

“Is this bread?”  Bear’s a big bread fan.  Classic carb lover.

“It’s like bread,” I agreed.  I pulled a piece off and handed it to him.  He ate it. Good to see, but not a huge surprise.  Again – carbs.

“You want to see the beans?”  I grabbed the colander full of black beans and brought them over.  “They look like bugs!”

Bear shrieked; he loves anything silly and gross.  The idea of bug beans was pure comedy gold. “Bug beans! Bug beans!”

“You wanna try one before we add them to the pan?”

Surprisingly, he managed to stay actively engaged through all the prep, and finished up by helping me pour the sauce and sprinkle the cheese.  He clapped when they went into the oven, and gave me a high five when I thanked him for helping me. It was a great moment.

And when they came out, he was waiting eagerly to see the finished product.  When I put a serving of it on his plate, he smiled and dug in with gusto.

…Hahahaha, no, I’m kidding.  He adamantly refused to eat it and demanded we give him chicken nuggets instead.  He didn’t eat that black bean I offered him, either, he just put in it his mouth, chewed it, gagged and spit it out rather theatrically.  I found a piece of it stuck to the kitchen door this morning, so he got some good distance on it, too.

But.

He put it in his mouth.  And he tried it. He didn’t like it – which is fine – but he tried it.  And he tried a tortilla. And this week, he tried prosciutto, and pear, and honey.  And cooked tomato. And pasta with homemade sauce. All recipes he helped make, or, at least, components of those recipes.  I didn’t turn him into a connoisseur, but I made him a part of something he was curious about, and his curiosity, at points, overwhelmed his stubbornness, and he tried things.

He eats pears now.  I’m okay with him not eating enchiladas.  He eats pears. That’s a start.

And having to narrate my cooking journey was strangely helpful.  Verbalizing what I was doing kept me more on track – maybe I didn’t take the most direct route, but I had fewer wrong turns, you know?  Being able to keep Bear in the kitchen in a way that didn’t distract me from my cooking meant I knew where he was and could keep an eye on him, spend some time with him, and introduce him to a life skill that would benefit him in the long run.  

And if he takes a bite or two of something new along the way, all the better.

PS:  Every. Single. Tortilla.  Had a bite taken out of it by the time we were finished.  Freakin’ carbs. He truly is my son.