We are doing pizza for dinner tonight. I made the pizza sauce, put aside the veggies and chicken for the toppings, and also the seasonings and cheese. My 7-year-old is all excited that she is going to be the chef tonight. We’ve started on a Saturday ritual where one of us becomes the chef and the rest of us are customers at our restaurant called ‘mivesika’. No prizes for guessing how we came up with that name. Dear Husband (DH) doubles up as a waiter sometimes. She donned her Chef hat, put on some white clean clothes and was ready with her trademark ‘I know it all’ enthusiasm. Sometimes I wonder where she gets her confidence from. I still youtube videos of dishes I have made 20 times. And my little lady here is going to make pizza for the very first time, with the cool-headed attitude and assurance of a professional chef who’s done this all their life. This, I think to myself fondly, is what I have cultivated painstakingly and grown. An unfettered human who thinks she can do anything. Everything is within her reach and if it can be done, she can do it.
She chopped the veggies, arranged them neatly on a plate, went through all the layers and steps with me for the third time and was ready to go. And I was ready to go take a bath. And while I am in the bath, I begin to hear panic-stricken voices outside. The pizza base burnt itself black well within 5 minutes, while my instruction was to let it cook for 8. “Was it on the lowest flame possible?” is my question. “I don’t know. Daddy lit the flame”. “But I told you darling that it has to be on the lowest flame”. By now there’s a complete meltdown and I am not helping either, cursing myself for not getting daddy to repeat instructions. And in the middle of everything, through the sobs and the blame, I hear them say “Mummy will fix it!”
True to their belief, I saunter out like the cool cat my daughter thinks I am (only if she knew the things I am saying to myself), head straight to the kitchen, toast some new pizza bases on the pan, transfer all the toppings from the burnt bases to the new ones and let it sit in the pan for a few minutes, before it’s all ready and we are all feeling accomplished, not only because we still have dinner on the table, but because we all learnt some important things.
This is home-schooling for me. It’s not always going to be about numbers and places and new inventions. It’ll be as much about cooking on a slow flame to let the cheese melt to perfection, dealing with our meltdowns and intensities when they raise their heads, debating when we have to, doubting ourselves and letting mummy take over when it’s too much to handle for everyone else (well because mommy knows best!). It’s not always going to be pleasant. Sometimes we are going to burn things down. But learn we will.
It’s a tough task – to raise bold, passionate, differently wired and crazy-intense kiddos to be everything they want to be and maybe also the saviours of the times to come – the next generation of leaders, agents, sentient beings. But this is exactly the kind of thing that brings about the warm, fuzzy feeling of love inside. And maybe it’ll spread outside of all of us. We’ll get to our numbers and letters another day. For now, we are happy baking in the warm glow of a slow flame.