I recently made a routine analysis of my kitchen. (Of course I make a routine analysis of my kitchen; don’t you?) In it, I discovered these items, still usable, but approaching that magic “throw it out” date:
- Baby carrots
- Green beans
So, I thought, what can I make that would use all of these? And I realized I had some shrimp in the freezer, so: a shrimp boil! I tossed it all, plus some various seasonings and a few other veggies, into the Dutch oven, and boiled.
Jacob and Oliver watched the activity with interest. Well, except for the potato-peeling part. For that, they went and played with their toy school buses. But the rest was good. They carefully observed me adding some spices, some vegetables, the shrimp, and watched it all simmer. Then it was time to eat. Excitement!
Of course, it did take a few minutes to boil, so Jacob got down his whiteboard while Oliver looked on.
They enjoyed learning how to peel the shell from the shrimp and devoured their food.
And another night recently, Jacob unexpectedly showed up in the kitchen at 10PM. He said he was thirsty, so I got him some water. He asked, “Dad, did you make ice cream?”
Earlier that day, I had prepared ice cream with Oliver, but it was a kind that had to be cooked (lemon with pureed strawberries and peaches) and it wasn’t cool enough to finish before their bedtime. I did let them help add the ice and salt to the ice cream freezer just before they went to bed.
So I told Jacob that yes, the ice cream was done.
He stood there, tiredly, considering, with this “oh he’ll never say yes to ice cream at 10PM” look on his face.
So I said, “would you like one bite right now?”
The look of delight on his face was amazing; a broad smile, a twinkle in his eyes, and a clap. So I got out the big bowl of ice cream and scooped up one big spoonful. He loved it. Then I said, “should we go look at the stars?”
I carried Jacob outside to the porch. We stood there, looking up. I used to do this with him periodically, but it had been about a year. So he was thrilled. It was a partially overcast night, but there were still some stars visible. He had no idea there were some stars missing. To him, it was amazing and wonderful and infinite. “Oh dad, there are way too many stars to count!”
He stayed there, arms around my neck, for a minute or two, then was ready to go back inside. I set him down, gave him a hug, said “Goodnight, Jacob.” And off he trotted, back upstairs, wearing a contented smile, and he fell asleep almost immediately.
All it takes to delight children is a bit a shrimp or some stars. And those things delight me, too.