"Add some capers to the slow cooker, honey," I said to The Boy yesterday morning, since he was feeling helpful. "Add a tablespoon of capers."
"Okay!" he said, cheerfully, and then dumped the whole jar in.
"It looked like a tablespoon to me," he said, mournfully. But supper was still very good. Very caper-y. (And look at my new slow cooker! It’s GORGEOUS!)
The Boy took Friday off – he said he was sick although he really wasn’t, the fink – and he spent part of the day writing poems, since that’s the way we roll around here (maybe it’s all the capers). Here is his first poetic effort:
Thanksgiving, O Thanksgiving
The turkeys are good
The mashed potatoes are good
Everything on the table is good.
It’s Walt Whitman-esque, if Walt REALLY liked turkey dinners. He was talking mournfully about how there’s weeks – weeks! – until the next holiday dinner, which will be Halloween, apparently. I generally do a silly theme dinner – hot dog mummies with baked potato slice ghosts and that sort of thing – which the kids eat quickly while waiting for their dad to come home and take them trick-or-treating, as well as a themed school lunch, but they’ve never mentioned liking it one way or another. Which seems ungrateful, doesn’t it?
I remember exactly one grateful friend growing up, one person who was thankful for the effort that her parents were making – and her parents, in retrospect, weren’t doing a very good job. (Porn out in then open! Bills that went unpaid so the parents could buy booze! And there’s more, but it’s just depressing.) But their kids were really grateful, and for what I’m not quite certain. Everyone else seemed to pretty much regard their parents as their due, and their parent’s efforts by and large went unnoticed.
And this is how it should be, I think. Gratitude seems like a pretty adult emotion, this understanding that other people are doing more than they have to for you, the knowledge that you’re being given something you haven’t quite earned. And there’s also something sort of creepily sullen in the parental expectation of gratitude, the idea that I’m only making the stupid mummy pizza not so that my children will be delighted when they open their lunchbox, but instead to drill into their heads that I am a Good Mother. Oh, and also to impress their teachers.
What I want my kids to feel, instead, is the comforting certainty of routine, the knowledge that bedtime will always be preceded by baths and stories, the knowledge that Saturday morning is library time, the knowledge that they will open their lunches on Halloween to a ghoulish surprise. Later on, when they’re adults, maybe they’ll realize that the comforting rhythm of their childhood came through their parents’ efforts, but for now they can take their happy childhoods for granted, not knowing really that it will ever change.