Drew and I have started cooking together. This isn’t because I’m an amazing, intentional mother who deliberately set out to create teachable moments of mother-son bonding in which I could take, say, a cluster of grapes and somehow make Drew understand what it means to be connected to Jesus, the Vine. Or the nuances of communion theology. Or about how grapes are green, and green is a color, a color like grass, say, or the color of the recycling truck. No, that was not how it all began. It started with Drew’s simple request one morning to “stir the eggs?”
Last night we made beef stroganoff. He wanted to wield the butcher knife when it came time to chop the “large onion” the recipe demanded, but when he started hacking away like a miniature madman — the onion rolling all over the cutting board in a panic — I decided to be responsible instead of just vaguely curious and reclaim the weapon.
Drew wanted to dump the mushrooms into the skillet. We each had a little styrofoam carton and on the count of three turned them over into the hot butter. “Do you know what these are called?” I asked Drew.
Drew thinks everything is macaroni. I read somewhere it’s a Texas state law to feed your children macaroni everyday for lunch, so it stands to reason dinner would also be an appropriate time for the cheesy elbow pasta of the gods. Did you know that’s the scientific name for macaroni, by the way? I found that out on WikiLeaks. I think it might be a warning sign, however, if your child mistakes vegetables for macaroni. As if this particular vegetable is only but a version, a mere permutation of the core essential food: the irreducibly complex and necessary-for-life-on-earth Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
His favorite part of the meal was painting the olive oil onto the asparagus spears. I have a rubber basting brush that’s this mauvy color with these quivery rubbery bristles and this really grippy handle, a tool that makes you want to find new uses for it or invent some game for which it would be an essential element. And since I don’t believe I’ve ever actually cooked a bird in my oven before, much less basted a bird, I use the basting brush to paint vegetables. I’m thinking of including it in my beauty routing somehow, but I’m in the midst of figuring out how that could work. Sometimes I use it to paint egg white on pastry dough when I’m feeling fancy.
Drew became very agitated when I produced the sour cream from the fridge and began mixing it together with flour in a Pyrex measuring glass. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, something about “not going back and forth really fast.” He made a quick back-and-forth motion with his hands. Sometimes I look at Drew and think there must be this very old and wise man trapped inside his body who is always trying desperately to communicate with the outside world, like a submarine captain sending up pings from the depths of the ocean.
I realized Drew was afraid of me bringing out the hand mixer. The night before I was whipping up some cream for strawberry shortcake, and Drew came to the kitchen door with a very concerned expression on his face, like maybe I was trying to decapitate Thomas the Tank Engine. I showed him that the hand mixer is just a loud appliance, nothing more, and that it really is very useful. Just like Thomas.
So last night when he saw a white creamy substance yet again, sour cream, he only assumed Mom’s devil machine was not far behind.
(I think I need to interject here that I realize so far this blog is making me out to be some sort of cooking domestic goddess. I’m only recounting the experiences I’ve had cooking with Drew this week, not all experiences of eating in general, which definitely include a quarter-pounder from MacDonald’s on Tuesday night. There. Just shooting for a little transparency here.)
My favorite part of making the meal was the moment Drew was sitting on the counter next to the skillet as I stirred the sour cream/flour mixture into the beefy goodness. He leaned into me and said, “I need a hug Mommy.” He then rested his head against my shoulder blade. At that moment I had an apron on, my hair was thrown back in the most heinous ponytail bastardization, and I was in socked feet hoping to simultaneously mop the floor as I moved about the kitchen. Despite my pitiful persona, and despite the deepest tenderness of Drew’s gesture, at that exact moment, like the moment after a curtain call, I felt like the Most Powerful Woman on Earth.