The Abundance of Tarts

Zettie Louise never ceases to surprise me. When Junior was helping her yesterday, she made him lunch. That wasn’t surprising but the fact that Zettie Louise had Junior help her make a gourmet treat was a hoot. When Junior came home from helping Zettie Louise yesterday, he was sweaty from working outside but holding a platter full of beautiful Ricotta Tomato Tarts. That’s not something you see everyday in my son’s hands. He was showing them to me because he had helped make them. Mind you, Junior is a great son and knows how to get the spoon to his lips most of the time without making a mess, but his cooking skills are sporadic. The tarts were gorgeous and he placed them in the icebox for dinner. I gushed over them and he smiled before going to clean up.

In many ways, Junior is different at Zettie Louise’s. More mature or thoughtful or something. He really respects her and has learned a lot listening to her. He throws in comments at dinner about subjects that they discuss. I’m not sure how many in-depth discussions I have had with my son about the state of the world but Zettie Louise covers a lot of serious topics with him. That makes me proud of him but I wonder if he thinks I am more superficial than her. I suppose in my position as mother, it will always be a little disconcerting to have someone else teach my son something. When children are young, you are with them all of the time and you are aware of everything they know. Then one day, someone else babysits them and they come home knowing new stuff. That’s when they start to surprise you with their own discoveries.

I called Zettie Louise after dinner and thanked her for the tarts. They were truly delicious. She had used her own home-grown tomatoes and basil. I also thanked her for the way she interacted with Junior. Zettie Louise always calls him Steven when she talks about him. After our call, I realized that Zettie Louise was in touch with a different side of my son. Even my nickname for him kept him my baby. It was a little late to start calling him Stephen but it wasn’t too late to start treating him a little more like a young man.

Today, Zettie Louise sent my son home with some beautiful tomatoes and the recipe for the tarts. I asked my son if he would take some time with me to prepare the recipe so he could teach me any tricks he learned along the way. He graciously told me that he would fit me into his schedule and we both laughed at the formality of his reply. His laugh reminded me that Junior was my little boy and always would be. Who he was with others was not supposed to be who he was with me. I was special in his life because I was his mom. We prepared more tarts and they were absolutely delicious. Everyone clapped at the table when Junior walked out the platter and placed it on the table. He deserved the applause and thanked him for making the meal extra special again.


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