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Cooking Life Lessons

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My son is eleven years old, brilliant, moody, mild sufferer of OCD, slow moving, emotionally fragile at times, hilarious and tentative. He loves pancakes and weekends are wonderful times for these.
Today I decided it was time to have him make the pancakes himself. Having had a bad experience with hot oil two years ago, he's never ventured back into the cooking realm of our kitchen and today was the day. He poured pancake mix. He read directions, adding milk, an egg, and stirring, removing any and all lumps. He covered the pan with oil and turned on the heat. He ladled pancake batter onto the pan and listened as I told him what to look for - the bubbles in the middle of the circles, the edges of them browning ever so slightly. Then he took the spatula and tried to slide it under the pancake and flip it.

It worked. He was thrilled! He did it seven or eight times more and had officially made breakfast for himself and his brother.
As I watched this nervous young man try his hand so cautiously at something his younger cousin can do in his sleep, I found myself amazed that I could actually see the analogy in cooking and in life - between being a victim and being in control of things. For my boy wielded that spatula like he was holding a python's tail and the python had all the power and he, of course, had none. I found myself watching him with total clarity and understanding, realizing that if he could transform the hand he used to hold the spatula into a powerful, strong and willfully shaping piece of body muscle, it would empower him in so many other areas of his life. He needed to wake up to his own power.
So I found myself saying to him: "Look at the pancake. Look at the pan. Look at the spatula. YOU are cooking IT, IT is NOT cooking YOU, do you understand what I mean?"
Of course, I really sounded quite cheesy but he seemed to get it. I demonstrated to him turning off the heat, moving the pan away from the heat and stepping away from the stove. I said, "You don't have to do it if you are in the middle of something else. Stop it. Start it. When you are cooking, turning the fire on and off is your choice, you control it.

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