Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fried Chicken and Waffles

This morning, Malkolm woke me up to ask me where the baking powder was. It was 6:00 a.m. and I just stared at him, trying to wrap my sleepy head around the idea of him asking for baking powder -- I thought for a moment, maybe I was dreaming. Looked at the clock, looked back at him. Was he really there? Malkolm nudged me again. "Momma, Momma -- I'm making waffles as a surprise for Malia, I need the baking powder, can you please tell me if we have any and where it is?"

I shook my sleep off a bit, and told him where it was and thought, how sweet, he's making waffles for his sister as I fell back off into slumber (I still had another 30 minutes to sleep, wasn't ready to give that up). Malia had missed several days of school because she's been battling strep and some kind of respiratory thing for the past week and today was her first day back. Malkolm wanted to make her first day back to school special and decided to make the waffles.

He had gotten up early to work on a story for class, so when he finished he went to, looked up a waffle recipe and printed it out. He followed it to the letter, and when I woke up, breakfast was almost ready ... with one small snafu.

I was looking at the batter, and everything appeared to be a-ok. I saw some flecks of something floating in the batter and about the same time, I noticed a savory smell coming from the bowl. At that point, I was wondering what the recipe called for that would create this smell, which, as the moments lengthened into minutes, really began to smell not quite right. I asked him what he put in, and he didn't mention anything out of the ordinary -- the recipe looked like a normal waffle recipe.

It was then I noticed the plastic bag on the counter. The plastic bag half-full of flour that was spiced and ready for "shake and bake" chicken. The bag that had about two more cups of spiced flour in it when I went to bed the night before. Ahhhh, my baby. He had used the flour with the garlic, pepper, salt, thyme and a myriad of other spices that were just right for chicken coating and gravy, but not so much for morning waffles.

When he realized what he had done, tears filled his eyes, and he started to cry, I was explaining how proud I was of him for doing this -- for not only trying to make these on his own but especially for taking the initiative to treat Malia so preciously. My condolences didn't really seem to hit home right away, but we watched the waffle on the waffle iron cook, almost as if we were mourning a goldfish passed. The smelly waffle came out perfectly shaped and formed ... albeit completely inedible.

I quickly popped a couple of Eggo waffles in the toaster for the kids and they ate them breakfast before heading off to school. In spite of the savory waffle incident, my heart was dancing. I knew he was hurt that his waffles weren't quite what he expected, but I loved him so much for trying!

This 10-year-old, never having made waffles before, dusting off the waffle maker and ignoring the Bisquick in the cabinet, rolling up his sleeves and make these waffles for his sister before the sun was up.

As a mother, you know, sometimes I wonder if I'm getting this mother thing right. I make a decision about some disciplinary action, or I say something out of anger that I have to apologize for -- or I don't set a good example with how I handle things. I feel like I am a horrible example in so many ways, I am usually questioning whether or not I've done the right thing -- was I too harsh? Was I too lenient? Am I being fair? Did I overreact? Did they just see me sneak that extra piece of cake?

And, for sure, we have the usual sibling fights ... the competition to see who can get to their toothbrush first ... the shoulder bumping as the try to position themselves to be the first one out the door ... the snarky button-pushing comments when they've had a bad day and aren't getting their way ... all of this happens on a regular basis between my eldest two, but when I see them doing something like this -- so unselfish and heartfelt -- I get a glimpse of how they will be when they are older; friends. Calling each other just to talk, or arranging visits. Leaning on each other for support when something difficult or emotional happens. Being there for one another as they grow up and find their own paths outside of our home; as they move into grown-up land and have their own families.

Sometimes when they are at each other's throats, I get so angry and I just want to ground them for life and take away every privilege known to man, but when stuff like this happens, I can see that we are making progress. We are moving in the right direction ... and that's a pretty good feeling.

Homemade waffles or not, it was a swell morning.



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