Barbecue Sauce with Compliments

Last night, I prepared roast beef with potatoes and carrots for dinner for probably only about the third or fourth time in my life. Then I remembered why I rarely made the dish.

Younger is not a dedicated fan of roast beef.

“I don’t hate it, Mom,” he assured me with a shrug. “I just don’t really like it.”

But then, later, as I worked on my computer, engrossed in writing a Christmas play, Younger wandered into the living room. “Mom, the reason I don’t really care for roast beef is because I feel like you chew it and chew it then finally just have to give up and swallow,” he told me. “But –”

And with the upturn in his voice, I was totally preparing myself for him to tell me my roast beef was chewable, a compliment of sorts, one I would have accepted, as I have no illusions of myself as a cook.

I straightened my shoulders a little.

I started to smile.

“But,” he continued, “if you put a little barbecue sauce on it, it just slides right down.”

Some sons brag on their mommas’ cooking.

Mine, they apparently suggest barbecue sauce to help it all go down.

That’s lovely.

Just absolutely, perfectly, fine-and-dandy lovely.


What Does Tomorrow Matter

Today, I thought I would share an old story from 2006. Younger would have been seven years old . . .

Younger does not like chicken.  Not even a little.  And mashed potatoes are only a little higher on his list.  So, yesterday, at school, for lunch, he ate grapes.  Then he wanted Pop Tarts immediately upon his arrival at home.  Instead, I fixed him a plate of leftovers – meatloaf and corn.  And, later, when he was still hungry, he consumed a corn muffin.

I thought he had been appeased.  But, apparently, I was temporarily insane, from which I was cured at bedtime when Younger’s caterwauling echoed through the house.

“Younger.”  My husband stuck his head in the boy’s bedroom.  “What is wrong now?”

“I’m hungry,” he wailed.

“I’m sorry,” my husband responded, leaving the child to persevere in his attempt at pitiful moaning.

But after a few more minutes of his racket, I climbed the stairs.  “Younger, I want you to stop.  Now.  Or you won’t be able to play Nintendo tomorrow.”

“What does tomorrow matter,” he cried dramatically,  “when I’ll starve to death tonight?”

And it was at that point that even I started to doubt he would live until morning.

Not Eating That

After I scrub my kitchen sink, I always throw my sponge into the microwave for thirty seconds to kill any germs.

Does that work?

Well, I read it on the internet, so . . .

Of course.


Well, sometimes, I don’t always respond to the microwave’s first notification that my sponge is finished cooking. Especially if I am in the middle of fixing dinner at the same time.

So, one night, Younger wandered through the kitchen, checking the contents of the pots and pans. Then the oven. Then the microwave.

He took one look at the green, rectangular pad on the glass plate and declared, “I’m not eating that.” And swung the microwave door closed with an emphatic thud of determination.

Yeah, he’s a real riot.

Maturity 2.0

So, last night, I decided we would have breakfast for dinner. And I bopped around the kitchen gathering ingredients for pancakes.

First, flour. Then sugar, baking soda, and salt.

I was on a roll.

With all the dry ingredients in one bowl, I beat eggs in a different one then turned back to the refrigerator and pulled open the door, only to release a growl of frustration.

“What?” my husband questioned, as the refrigerator door thunked closed and my hands remained empty.

But then from the living room, Elder volunteered, “You need me to get some milk, Mom?”

“Yes, please,” I answered with patience. “Thank you for offering.”

“Well, I did drink the gallon in two days.”

Yes, he had. In two days, an entire gallon of milk.

But, apparently, in one semester, he had gained the maturity to realize he could help me solve a problem he created.

Maybe by summer he’ll actually text me a note when polishing off a gallon of milk.

Milk as evidence of maturity.

Who knew?


Don’t Tell

The other day, my husband dropped Younger off with his friend of the poppy seed muffin fame. (Secret Family Recipe)

He came home with two jars of homemade jam.

Eyeing my husband and the jars suspiciously, I asked, “What secrets did you give up now?”

“No secrets. Just your birthday.”

Well, my birthday isn’t a secret, I guess. I don’t exactly advertise the age, but I’m not afraid of a little number.

The big numbers, now those are terrifying.

Maybe a little homemade jam on a biscuit will blunt the fear.

Or a lot of homemade jam.

Straight from the jar.

You know, either way.

Stealthy Ninjas

Whenever I bake muffins, I tend to find discarded paper wrappers everywhere except in the trash. So, the other day, after retrieving at least the hundredth wadded wrapper from the kitchen countertop, I launched into one of those end-of-my-rope lectures.

“But, Mom,” Younger protested, his eyes wide. Leaning towards me, he lowered his voice and revealed, “It’s the ninjas. They’re stealthy, Mom. They blend into the walls and the furniture. They move so fast you can’t see them with the naked eye. And they force me to throw those wrappers on the countertop. And,” he added for good measure, “they hook the Pepsi up to my veins, just in case you start wondering where the Pepsi went.”

My eyebrows lifted towards my hairline, one fist finding my hip. “Are you telling me ninjas made you do it?”

He nodded. “Exactly. Ninjas.”

So, now, whenever I start squawking about candy wrappers in the pockets of their jeans or a suddenly empty bag of cookies, a voice hollers, “The ninjas, Mom. They’re stealthy.”

Oh, those stealthy, stealthy ninjas. No telling what they might do next.

Well, except wash a dish or bake a cake or scrub a toilet.

Apparently the only one with those superpowers is Mom.

Angela’s Secrets

So, a few months ago, my husband revealed the recipe for my delicious, rave-worthy lemon poppy seed muffins. (Secret Family Recipe.)

Then, a few weeks ago, at a Thanksgiving family dinner…

“Mmmm,” my sister murmured around a bite of my pumpkin cheesecake pie. “How did you make the graham cracker crust? It’s really good.”

I just stared at her, my lips pressed into a thin straight line.

Eyes flashing with humor at my expense, she grinned. “Betty Crocker?”

Still cranky, I admitted, “Keebler.” Then I defended myself, “The recipe says ‘prepared graham cracker crust.’ I just followed the directions.”

I don’t know how Victoria has managed all these years, because obviously I can’t keep a secret.