Breaking eggs and spoons of sugar

Tiny tapping. Tap. Tap. Tap. Unless you watched, you’d never know that the tiny cook is breaking an egg. How does a toddler learn to bake? By helping Daddy whip up the pancakes. First the flour, then the milk. The sugar and the baking powder, and then a dash of vanilla. No problem for even the littlest of helpers, even when not all of the flour gets in the bowl. And more sugar if Daddy isn’t watching. Here’s a spoon and here’s the jar. “Just one” is such a relative phrase.

But it’s the egg that separates the big girls. Can she do it herself? Tap. Tap. Tap. A crack and a quick fissure. Tiny fingers pull the shell apart without getting any in. The yolk, the whites and a giant grin. She is grown up and feels adult. She learned this on her own.

Confidence beams. Today it’s quick. TAP! Oh no! The yoke and whites are followed by a flock of fragments. But Daddy smiles. It’s OK, honey, we all do that.

How quickly the world changes. Exuberance in check and caution rules. tap. tap. tap. tap. No cracks, no fissures for today we’re afraid and want a real adult to take over. But Daddy doesn’t, it’s just an egg. And a young child will learn a lasting lesson. It’s OK to make mistakes. To hit too hard or too soft. To look and see if what you’re doing is right or wrong. To learn to push ahead or pull back.

For the father was never given the luxury of this lesson until the odd were too high. It would have been better to learn to total the trike than the truck, to waste an egg than a job. Daddy grew up in a mine field, where blind steps would blow up. Where simple choices carried threats of death.

But not Beta-chan. She’s just three and is only given what tiny fingers may drop so she can learn care, tiny taps at a time.

Tap. Tap. Tap. A crack and a quick fissure. Tiny fingers pull the shell apart without getting any in. The yolk, the whites and a giant grin. She is grown up and feels adult. She learned how to regain confidence on her own. A lesson for a lifetime.

That’s beautiful. Thank you.

I was 6 when I learned to make egg custard, by 8 I could make a souffle that didn’t immediately fall :stuck_out_tongue: Everybody should learn to cook!

Would you say that you were walking on eggshells?

Sounds like things are looking up in the Player household.

Next step: hand her a steak and point towards the grill. She’ll work it out.

That was very poignant, and beautiful. I am glad you shared, and hope you write more and share more; if not with us, than with someone else in the world.

And of course, save this for your daughter. It’s truly…well, I lack the words.

But I sure do appreciate yours.

That was beautiful. How good it is, to learn early that it is perfectly normal to make mistakes, and to recover from them.

Your post makes me weep…with joy.

Fellow survivor.

My therapist suggested that working with my children will help my recovery. Since time won’t go back, that I work here and now with my children on helping them learn the lessons which were denied us.

Being emotionally immature, then I have to read ahead in the text to learn the lessons I want to teach them, especially since all good lessons must be taught by example and not words.

With less natural self-confidence than an ant on an icicle, one has to learn how confidence is developed. OK, I’ve got a list of all the *wrong *things to do as a parent, but what are the right ones?

One interesting source is a study on how primitive tribes in New Guinea and villagers in Africa raise their children. Obviously, grooming them to be successful bushmen isn’t going to be a great use of either of our time, but some of the concepts seem to make good sense.

One conclusion by the anthropologist is that it’s important to begin having children do chores when they are younger, even three to four, when they still are really trying to please their parents, and rather than eight or nine, when they already know they’ve got their parents’ love in the basket. In the villages, they worry less about theories than customs, and while not all customs are necessarily healthy, this seems to be good.

In the villages, the children are just directed to work, often by older siblings. We do things differently. Beta-chan gets to put a sticker on the calendar when she’s helped out. Yesterday morning, the first thing out of her mouth when she woke up was that she wanted to help Daddy right away to get the sticker. Sweeping stairs together, where Daddy does the first pass with the big broom and she gets the second pass with she smaller one, it seems that she’s learning how to help and to be part of the team. I hope that will be useful for her.

One of my friends said that many parents have a good background, so they don’t have to do deliberate parenting. That’s not an option here. I feel like a blind person teaching someone how to paint.

There’s no doubt that I will screw up some things as a parent. But if I can not screw up as badly then it will be worthwhile.

Who also knew how to change. I hope I can learn.

When I was in college for ChemE, we used to tell the following joke (easier with gestures, of course). How can you tell what year a student is in, by seeing them in the bar?

First year: no coat as they don’t have labs yet, and they can yell themselves hoarse before the barman bothers serve them. Paco! PACO! PACOOOOO! Call your Mom, she may listen.

Second year. A coat which was white when bought but which already shows some burns, discolorations, and other marks you really don’t want to ask about. The soda is poured by leaving the glass on the bar, scrunching* until the pourer’s eyes are even with the desired level, and p…o…u…r…i…n…g… very slowly and carefully.

Third year. The coat is half-white, half-camo. Soda gets poured the way normal human beings do it.

Fourth year. The coat looks like it’s been to war. The Punic wars and every war since, that is. Soda gets poured without looking at either the bottle or the glass.

Fifth year. A new coat which manages to survive the whole year with maybe one or two small yellow spots. The soda gets poured by lifting the glass to the pourer’s eye level and pouring carefully.

Yeah, fourth-year students were usually the ones producing the most spectacular accidents…

  • like crouching, but with more concentration


You are the survivor. Your daughter is safe.

TokyoPlayer that was beautiful. I have no kids, by choice, and while reading that I had the fleeting thought that perhaps I made the wrong choice. That’s a first for me.

I don’t know your story, but I can tell that BetaChan is a very lucky little girl who’s got a great Dad :slight_smile:

I love to read what you write, TP. Very evocative.

That was beautiful.

So I hope. Buffered by the icy blizzard winds of loathing, of terrible memories of blackness and hate; encased within the fogs of doubts and uncertainties; and paralyzed by fears of fires of old; dawn still hours away and miles still separate the shelter. When your body cannot take it any longer, and every cell screams in protest as you stumble along the rocks, cut and bruised you fall yet one more time, and you just cannot get up.

But you must. For there are innocent souls entrusted to your care. Precious ones whose lives depend on you getting up one more time. It matters not what darkness you know, what valleys and swamps have impeded your progress. Nor do the diseases count. The past is where that story was cast. It was not pretty, for nightmares are never. Details not important when a child has known hell.

The story is not of Then. For Then was not. Then would shake your spirit and corrupt your soul.

No, the story is Now. Of building a house of light and love. Where fear is vanquished, and little ones are not dragged by Then, and laughter rings in Now. Darkness is shut away and the sun invited. A parent’s pain is put aside, and Then in not welcome here.

Easy? No. But there is no choice. The demons would not stop at devouring just me. Unsated, they would destroy one more generation in a long heritage of carnage. No. It must be stopped. I cannot allow myself to be used as a pawn by evil. Personal pain is to be faced without fear. Pierce the boil and clean the wounds. Heal.

You say you don’t know my story, but I see you do. It’s a simple one, where a father teaches a young child to cook and, we hope, of lessons of life. For only those who have tread the same trek will recognize within that sentence the one word which others can take for granted. The difference between heaven and hell; between a house of hate and a lair of love.

I do not give but receive. My children have granted me a gift which no money could buy. Hope. And with that, I can use that hope to be a decent father in return.

I am amazed. I never knew anyone who had an abusive childhood. I never even had one myself. Oh wait, I did.

You touch me so, TokyoPlayer.

I am so glad I never got married or had kids, because I could not show that kind of strength in the past. I would have been a bad father; far better to be no father at all.

But in your example, you show a way.

Some of the best cooks I know, even my mom, never stray from the recipe. It is a rare person who can create something wonderful simply by following their muse and working on instinct. Examining yourself as you parent will not backfire on you.

When my daughter was learning to cook, there was no Tap. Tap. Tap. There was SMACK, Squeeze, wring. Her cookies had a distinctive, alarming crunch to them. No metaphor in that last–she’s terrible in the kitchen.