If I had to guess, the “I’m in” moment happened over a shared plate of Dutch pancakes.
This past Monday had been a lazy summer morning. We weren’t on vacation. Nothing except for a routine doctor’s appointment at 9:30am was on the calendar. It wasn’t until noon that I engaged with my three boys on a plan for the day.
I casually suggested a free museum. They forcefully rejected the idea on the rational basis of “summer + London + tourists + 1pm.” With rain threatening, we made the uninspiring decision to go out to lunch.
Because I am the Mom to three boys, lunch also involved us breaking into two teams and racing to the lunch destination. And because I am The Mom, I shackled Team Tube with an errand on the way. Team Bus won although there was some debate about possible unsanctioned running.
It’s hard to go wrong with a lunch featuring guacamole, street tacos and a restaurant foosball table. But what surprised me was the unexpected constellation of “Ok, yes, and sure” after lunch when I suggested we check out the neighborhood and walk the two miles back home.
Whether it was due to tortilla guilt or the siren song of a vegan brownie, our longest stop on the way home was at a mega Natural Food Store. Hanging out in a Natural Food Store for 30 minutes with my 10, 14, and 19 year old sons was certainly not something that had happened before. We left with two bags of groceries we didn’t really need, most of them experimental snack foods we had all helped pick out.
The best of the bunch was my youngest son’s pick of the 100% organic dried seaweed from Cornwall. The seaweed claimed to be bursting with vitamins, minerals and traces (or what we would call huge hunks) of sand and shellfish. We watched him ferociously gnaw his way through half of the 20 gram package before we collapsed in laughter reading the label: “Excess intake may enhance thyroid function. Recommended max daily intake of 5g.”
Enter the Dutch pancakes. In an attempt to cleanse the seaweed palate and make up for the Natural Food Store’s try at a carrot muffin, we made a final stop at our neighborhood street food market.
We stood outside the Camden Market and ordered a large plate of 15 Dutch pancakes with powdered sugar for the 4 of us to share. It’s hard not to feel grateful for your little tribe when you are standing cheek to cheek over a plate of doughy goodness, toothpicks in hand, and no one wants to take the last few for fear of taking more than their fair share. Overcome with a feeling of love that is hard to describe but sweeping in its power, when the plate was finally empty, I took it and dramatically poured it over one of my son’s head dusting him from head to toe in powdered sugar. It surprised me as much as it did them.
What under other circumstances might have been considered impulsive or embarrassing was received in the spirit given. They all laughed. Hard. Then much later..
At 10:30pm the five of us were sitting around the dinner table, stuffed. The kitchen sink was filled was just about every pot I own. The mess could wait for the morning because …
At 9pm my 10 year old was explaining his starter dish. How he and his 19 year old brother had soaked almonds in water and used them along with several other ingredients to make a vegan Caesar dressing and how they added pomegranate seeds for color to their dish. The extra flourish was not entirely a surprise because …
At 8pm when my husband walked in the door from work, he was instructed to both “not look” and also to please clean out the food processor because it was needed for main dish preparations where silken tofu featured. By that time, I had already answered a steady stream of questions ranging from “how to take the paper off the garlic” to “where that’s thing you mix with.” But no question is too many when …
At 7pm you find yourself watching your 14 year old carefully chop 600g of tomatoes for a Prawns & Scallops with Tomato & Feta main dish and you think – oh my gosh, this. is. heaven. I’m in the kitchen with my three boys and they are not just here but they are here and fully invested. And this time, they didn’t say “Ok, yes, and sure” – they responded with “YES! YES! YES!” And all your cookbooks are scattered on the dining room table to prove it. This collective YES that started …
At 5pm when my 10 year old and I, working off our Dutch pancakes, were riding bikes and I sent this spontaneous but expectant text to his brothers: “Master Chef Competition tonight. Team Kate/Colin vs Team Quinn/Lawton. Salad and main. Dad will be the judge. Get the cookbooks out.” So when both teams were headed out the door 30 minutes later in opposite directions to different grocery stores with ambitious plans, I wasn’t thinking I might have a teenage chef in the making … I was thinking …
That feeling I had when I poured the powdered sugar over my son’s head. They felt it too. And now they were christening me back.
It’s not a mystery that the soundtrack of love still plays on ordinary days. Most days we don't hear it but some days we hear it and on very special days, we hear it together with the ones we are trying our best to love.