It was my last semester of college and I was student teaching. Our school did not allow student teachers to “work” during that term; I am not sure that spending a week being a nanny was legal or not. A family owned an electronics store and the parents had won a sales promotion contest. Their prize was a trip to Italy and they needed someone to watch their two teenage daughters and grade school son. I didn’t mind helping out and so I accepted the task.
The house was beautiful with every up-to-date appliance and electronic gadget available. (I wondered if they had won the sales prize by furnishing their own home.)
The older daughter had a boyfriend and that presented my first challenge. The goodbyes with the parents had just been finished when the girl announced to me that she was scared about being “alone,” so her boyfriend would be spending each night on the living room couch. I was clear (and probably loud) in explaining that I was there to make them safe and that the boyfriend would be leaving each evening at the established time. She was surprised but the couple didn’t put up a fight.
The second daughter decided one day to make dinner; that was fine by me. She bought pork chops and then proceeded to cook all flavor and moisture out of them. Too late I discovered that she was fearful of trichinosis and wanted to ensure that the pork was cooked fully. You could break those chops on a rock, but you couldn’t cut them.
On Saturday I decided to bake a pie. I have no clue why I did that; I do not remember another time in my life when I have been in a pie making mood. Rather than buy pie dough at the store (ensuring a perfect result), I chose the old fashioned way and mixed and rolled out a homemade crust. The young son sat on a stool, watching my every move. I offered to let him help and he declined. Instead, he stared intently, appearing to study the process. When I started cutting up apples, he asked me what kind of pie I was making. I smiled and said, “Apple.” He nodded and then became silent again. When the pies went into the oven, he seemed sad. Halfway through the baking time, I turned on the oven light to check to see how the pies were doing. The boy was excited with what he saw and asked if I would leave the light on. That kid was fixated on those pies the entire afternoon.
Later, when we were enjoying hot apple pie with ice cream, I asked him why he was so interested in baking. He explained that he did not know how a pie was made. He seemed a little surprised that the crust on top was the same “stuff” as the crust on the bottom of the pie. After more discussion, I learned that he knew little about what went on in a kitchen.
Then it struck me – the kitchen was too clean. I should have realized it after the pork chop incident. The kitchen was never used for cooking; it was used for warming and reheating functions only. I did a quick inspection. There was no little bits of cookie dough on the mixer base. The oven was immaculate (or at least it was until I baked apple pies). The pots and pans were shiny and it was easy to see that the loaf pans had never held a meat loaf or banana bread. The kitchen that was perfect was also unused. Hmm. It reminded me of the woman we knew who had the living room full of furniture with plastic covers; I never saw anyone go into that room.
There is a cable company commercial with the stereotypical characters of “dumb dad” and “smart daughter.” In it, the dad says, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” The daughter replies, “Dad, if we have cake, we should eat it.”
Let me add my own recommendations to that advice:
- If you have a kitchen, you should use it.
- If you have family, you should hug them.
- If you have golf clubs, you should take them for a test drive from time-to-time.
- If you have toenails and a little extra cash, you should schedule a pedi.
- If you have a voice, you should sing.
- If you have a vote, you should use it wisely.
- If you have faith, you should rely on it.
Well, you know what I mean. Life is meant to be lived.
Make a pie. Use the oven!!!!
“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” Nehemiah 8:10