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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Bless Her Heart, There's No Cooking That Compares to Mama's

As parents, we all want our children to remember us in some special way. It may be that super ability to make the hurt spot feel better with just a little kiss or being the protector from the scary monsters during the darkest of nights.

I show my love in the kitchen and would love my daughter to remember the food I made for her as a labor of love and devotion, one that provides happiness and comfort, like being wrapped up in a warm fuzzy blanket. More often than I would like to admit, my labors of love feel unappreciated because Senia Mae is a picky eater. Sometimes I make things especially for her, using ingredients I know she likes, and still my vittles can go untouched. I try not to take it personally, she is only seven.

The other day when I picked her up from school her eyes were red, like she had just stopped crying.

"Senia Mae, what's wrong?" I asked, alarmed that my happy go lucky child got in the car with sad, watery eyes.

"I had a terrible day," she said. "I'd call it a zero." We have her rank every day at school between 1 and 10. It's a way for us to get a better idea of how her day went rather than asking," How was your day?" and getting the standard, non-descriptive response of "fine."

"A zero? Why?" I asked as I pulled the car into the breakdown lane and turned around to face her in the back seat. Her lower lip poked out, just like it had when she was a toddler, as she held back tears. "Honey, what is it? Was someone mean to you?"

"Carson poked me in the eye by accident during parent pick up," she said, looking down. I tried to keep my face serious.

"I bet that hurt."

"It did," she said. "And I got kicked during recess."

"Who kicked you?"

"Some boys that were playing soccer and running by."

"Oh, that's terrible. Did they apologize?" I asked.

"Yes, she said. But what made everything worse was that I spent the whole day hungry and still am." A few tears rolled out of the corner of her eyes and landed gently on her sleeve. Obviously to her being hungry was much worse than I could have imagined.

"Why were you hungry? Didn't you eat at lunch today?" I asked remembering how I urged her to diversify her palate and try the school lunch instead of just another peanut butter and jelly. "They had meatball subs... you love meatballs."

"Mama," she moaned as if I should already know what she is about to say, "those meatballs were all hard and dark. Plus they were really burnt, not soft and moist. I wouldn't even touch them. Yick."

I do remember disgusting school lunches from my day, but from what I had observed at her school, the food was actually decent.

"So you didn't even try them?"

"No, I just ate the bread and sauce."

"Well you should at least try them, don't you think?" I ask, feeling like Sam I Am. Would you eat them near or far? Would you eat them in a car?

"Mama, they weren't good like your meatballs... "
And there... there it was... the little gem I had been waiting seven years to hear. My face lit up with joy over my fussy child's sudden appreciation of my cooking. If I had the ability to record that sentence I would have played that tape over and over.

"Well of course their not going to be like Mama's," I say with one of the biggest, proudest smiles my face has ever produced. "Let's go get you something good to eat."

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