i write a lot about ruth’s kitchen assistance. probably because that is one of my most commonly used diversionary tactics, to cook something. that way, she is too preoccupied with climbing up on the table next to me, dumping and stirring ingredients and asking questions about the meal to degrade into tantrum mode. there are many tactics i employ to put my most helpful parenting strategy into action: avoidance. distraction. smoke and mirrors. hey, look over here, not at that thing that’s about to make you so mad that you’re going to start throwing things and breaking shit. another good one is to simply pack up as fast as possible and leave the house. i use that one a lot.
anyways, ruth helped me make spaghetti yesterday, and, as usual, i was barely able to keep ruth away from the boiling water and sauce and keep joel satiated in the doorway jumper long enough to finish the meal. afterwards, to quell ruth’s cries, i reached into the fridge and pulled out the Parmesan cheese and handed it to her and told her to put it on the table with our bowls of spaghetti as i got joel in his high chair and chopped some up into bitty bitty bits for him to grab at and then smear all over his face. ruth asked, “do you want a lot or a little?” clearly giving herself a promotion from simple “cheese carrier” to “cheese distributor”. i answered vaguely over my shoulder, “um…i like a lot.” a few more seconds and i had joel fastened into the chair with his pile of massacred spaghetti before him. i turned to the table to see ruth sitting in her chair, eating Parmesan cheese directly out of the container, our two bowls in front of her, looking like two snow-covered mountain peaks. she had dumped nearly half of the container into our spaghetti. “oh!” i said, “that is a lot!”
well, she got just about the saddest, forlorn look on her face at that, bowed her head dejectedly. and, believe me, i can tell a fake forlorn look from a real one. this was a real, genuine forlorn sad kid before me. i hurt her feelings.
“i mean, it’s great!” i said, recovering quickly, “i love parmesan cheese!!! thank you ruth!” and i sat down and ate it with gusto, smiling in between bites.
well, it was about the saltiest bowl of spaghetti i have ever eaten, but it tasted good because it was made with love. or more like desperation, frantic-ness with a large shot of self-esteem building, confidence bolstering. in other words, it tasted like my parenting style in a bowl.
don’t worry. i have a large supply of tums in my bathroom medicine cabinet.