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We All Ate The Homework

Homework prompted my dinner choice.  Junior’s class was supposed to make a dinner that reflected their ancestry.  Well, I knew we came from English and Irish ancestors and it was Saint Patrick’s Day, so there was plenty of Corned Beef Brisket for sale.  It’s not that it is such a hard meal to make, basically everything was boiled in a pot.  I flipped through the ladies’ magazines looking for something that would elevate this standard.  Finally, I came upon a recipe that would not make the whole house smell like cabbage.  Some genius woman tried cooking the cabbage separately until the end and then just let it bathe in the juices for 15 minutes.  The result was very tasty.

The harder part was that it was homework, which required Junior cooking along with me.  I thought it would make more sense to him if he really did the whole job, so I took him to the store with me to pick out the vegetables.  We had a recipe, which he read out loud to pick out the amount of carrots, onions, celery and cabbage he would need.  We had checked out the spices before leaving home to check on the bay leaves and other components.  He was reluctant at first to decide which carrots were the best ones, but eventually I waited long enough and he chose the ones he wanted and put them in the cart. When we got home, there was the vegetable washing and peeling and cutting, which he was very capable of doing, he just needed to be given enough time to complete each task.  Needless to say, dinner was a little later than usual.  The brisket takes a long time to simmer slowly and the house smelled sweet and rustic while it braised away.

While we waited, Junior and I played cards at the kitchen table and put together two puzzles.  It was nice to have the time to spend alone with him. Steve had ferried Daisy over to Gail’s to play and had gone to run some errands.  Normally, Steve would have asked Junior to go along with him but this homework time together gave me some thoughts on how to better share our children.  Both of the children needed to spend time with each of us but we didn’t always choose the opposite gender child to tag along with us.  I would have to discuss some changes with Steve over cocktails later to see how he felt about my ideas.

Junior set the table nicely and folded the napkins into strange animal figures that only he could decipher. Gradually, the meal came together and I showed Junior how to slice the meat properly to keep it from being tough.  We had a picture from the magazine to study to make the platter pretty and Junior even volunteered to complete that task.  All in all, the homework was very well done.  Steve got the camera and took a picture of Stevie holding the platter.  He had a big smile on his face.  Daisy and I joined Steve in giving the dinner many compliments. Junior ate each kind of vegetable, saying that they tasted different because he made them himself.

After dinner was over, there was the question of the dishes.  Normally I wash and the children help dry, but Steve decided that he would wash and Junior would dry.  That left Daisy and I some reading and cuddling time. It’s times like these that I wonder if Steve can read my mind. Or maybe we both knew the result of parenting both of our children would make better grown-ups.  I know that Mother Jones would never think of letting Dad Jones or Steve help out in the kitchen.  They were the men of the family and the kitchen has always been her domain.  For me, I was happy to share any chores and my domain with anyone in the family.  It’s usually the place we come together the best.  Maybe my family was like all the parts of a recipe; when we all come together, something delicious happens.

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