Friday, May 11, 2007

Late Night Noodles

"Hey Mom, can you come here and tell me if the water is boiling?

I had just spent the last forty-five minutes reading Mara: Daughter of the Nile to the kids. When we came to the end of the chapter they got up and wandered off. It's a great book. I couldn't put it down and so remained on the couch and read on. I was in the middle of Egyptian intrigue and espionage when John's words shocked me into closing my book.

"What do you mean come and tell you if the water is boiling? Are there bubbles?"

"Yes. The whole bottom of the pan is covered with bubbles."

It occurs to me that we might want to focus a little less on algebra and a little more on survival skills with this child.

"The bubbles need to be coming to the surface. The whole pan needs to be full of bubbles." I get up to check why John needs to know how to boil water at ten o'clock at night.

John has a package of Ramen Noodles laying on the counter. He is reading the directions. The water in the pan is boiling. He opens the package, puts the noodles in and turns off the stove.

"Buddy, you need to turn the burner back on and let the noodles boil for about three minutes."

"Oh." He turns the stove back on and checks the clock ...10:07. He opens the package of seasoning and tastes it. "Wow! This stuff is spicy!" He stirs the noodles and takes them off the burner at exactly 10:10.

After he has stirred in the seasoning, he pours most of the soup in a bowl, grabs a salad-serving fork and sits down at the kitchen table. I notice that there is a little soup left in the pan. I pour the remainder in another bowl, grab another salad-serving fork and join him. For a few minutes there is only the sound of John slurping his soup. And then there is the sound of laughter. We crack up when we notice we are both eating with silverware fit for a giant's table.

"Mom, what has been the best day of your whole life?"

I have to think on this for a while. I tend to be future oriented. The past slips easily out of memory. "It was the day that your Papa said that he loved me for the first time. We were sitting on a rock down by the lake."

John steers past the mush and focuses on the rock, "Was the rock out in the water? Was it near land? Was it round or flat on top?"

"Well, we didn't fall in the water so it must have been pretty flat."

It's quiet again. The slurping continues. "Ow! Noodle lash!" A noodle slaps John's face on the way into his mouth.

"Hey Mom, remember when I made heart-shaped coffee cake?"

I do remember. John's forays into the kitchen have been infrequent and, with the exception of a fabulous apple crisp that he made with his sister, disastrous. Years ago, when he read the directions for the coffee cake, he mistook 3t. for 3T. Three tablespoons of yeast made that dough come to life! I came in from working in the garden to find a dough monster climbing out of the bowl and crawling across the counter. Scary. We dumped it into the garbage, took the garbage out of the house and laugh about it to this day.

Our bowls are empty. John clears the table and puts the dishes in the sink. I'm full of plans for teaching him the basics. Tomorrow we'll tackle boxed macaroni and cheese.

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