Husband was out-of-town this past week, his presence having been required back in Maryland for some work-related meetings. His business traveling (even though fairly infrequent) used to be a difficult situation for Team WestEnders, when the boys were much younger and demanded constant attention and/or care. But nowadays, temporary single-parenting isn't so much of a big deal. Honestly, the most challenging aspect--at least in the Fall--is figuring out how to somehow transport 2 kids to 2 separate fields for 2 teams' soccer practices...on the same day...at overlapping times. (If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times: "Oh, if I could only apparate...")
The imperfect solution has been that we get Derek to his practice on time (this is important, since as the Coach's son, he brings the bag of soccer balls and pinnies for scrimmaging), then Riley and I hang out while he runs amok with his teammates for an hour. When he's finished...and we've prodded him to organize his stuff and get moving...we hightail it over to Riley's field. This results in Riley showing up late, but we justify it by the fact that his session is longer, so he technically still gets about 60 minutes with his soccer compatriots. Then, Derek typically sits in the car doing homework with his headphones on, and I go for a run or walk, while Riley frolics on the field.
However, this week we actually got a break: heavy rain caused swampy conditions, so Tuesday's schedule was washed out. Then on Thursday, the complex where Derek's practices are held was still closed, apparently remaining too soggy to play. Therefore we only had to negotiate Riley's travel arrangements. There really wasn't any reason for Derek to tag along, so when he asked if he could skip it and stay home, I agreed...with one Very Important Condition. (Mwah hah hah!) During the "normal routine", Husband takes care of the evening meal on soccer nights, since he and Derek are done and home by 6:30, while Riley and I don't generally arrive until 7:30 or so. So the cost of Derek's freedom to stay at the house would be...cooking grilled cheese sandwiches for him and his brother to eat for dinner.
When I informed him of this, he looked momentarily flummoxed. "But..but...I don't remember HOW!" he protested feebly. "Oh, not to worry, I'll give you a quick refresher before we go," I assured him. He still seemed somewhat unconvinced, but appeared to resignedly accept his fate. As Riley and I prepared to leave, I tutored Derek on the fine points of grilled cheese creation. It turned out that he actually did recall the basic elements--you know, butter on the OUTSIDE, 2 slices of cheese, etc. But he had a few technical questions, like "what number do I set the burner to" (okay, that's valid) and "do I have to butter both slices of bread right away, or does it matter if I get the first one in the pan with the cheese to start cooking, and then do the second?" (um...now you might be overthinking it just a bit, dude...)
While I believe he had some lingering trepidation, he passed his first culinary test. He didn't burn down the house (or even set off the smoke detectors, so Bonus Points for that). He sustained no injuries. Furthermore, his efforts produced 2 nicely-browned, sufficiently-melty toasted cheese sandwiches that met with complete satisfaction from his customer--um, "brother". Heck, he didn't even really make any mess! So yeah, little does he know it now, but based on his initial success, the expectations are only going to go higher. Hmmm, what can I teach him next? I'm sure he can handle pasta, yeah? That's it, from now on, Saturday night dinner's on Derek!