The most recent sign of "growing up"--or maybe the Apocalypse, I'm not sure which just yet--came from 10-year old Derek. He suddenly announced one day, "Mom, I want you to teach me how to cook!" Oh, so many tangled thoughts to sort out before I could even respond...should I go with brutally truthful: "But I loathe cooking!" Or unapologetically realistic: "Sure, this is how you program the microwave..." Or tip-of-the-tongue sarcastic: "Let's get right on that, Emeril." Fortunately what actually came out was more like, "Um, okay honey, you can help with tonight's dinner!"
Since I've been in a seriously Anti-Cooking Mode this summer, that first meal prepared by me and Assistant Chef Derek consisted of sunny-side-up eggs, microwave bacon, and toast. He cracked eggs into the pan (only a few shells), nuked the bacon (no burned fingers) and buttered the toast (most of the butter actually making it onto the bread). And when he was done, he absolutely beamed with pride and pleasure at his accomplishment. The next night, continuing with the "fast and easy" dinner plan, he tackled soup (from a can...microwaved...I really am slacking, aren't I) and grilled cheese. We discussed in great detail and with appropriate gravity the essential elements of an outstanding grilled cheese sandwich: assuring the proper butter-to-bread ratio; choosing the amount and type of cheese used; assessing desirable level of "brown-ness" and turning at the ideal moment; and assuring peak gooeyness of cheese without over-toasting.
And then when we were ready to serve our creations to the hungry family, Derek admitted, "Wow, cooking is hard work!" So it turns out that this little exercise was valuable to both of us for several reasons I couldn't have anticipated...most obviously, we shared some valuable Mom/Son bonding time. Secondly, Derek got a small glimpse into the fact that Mom has a tough job! Finally, my not-so-little-anymore young man gained a Real World Life Lesson in food prep for the future...you know, that much-anticipated period of my life when Derek will say, "Mom, I'm hungry," and I will reply, "That's nice, go make yourself something, dear!" (while continuing to relax with my feet up, reading a magazine and sipping my iced tea...ahh, such a beautiful daydream...)