So Cecilia won’t be graded in sixth grade and this makes me… slightly itchy. I actually think it will be very good for her but as someone that was schooled in the 80s and 90s and was pretty good at tests and rule-following it is a very different middle school experience. Add remote learning on top of that and I sometimes find myself a bit adrift as a Dad.
I find myself stuck between chastising and cheering. Yes, they need to do the assignments but if they wander off and get interested in something else along the way? If they try to figure out how to make a quick bread rise with the right leavening ratios? If they do their assignment while pretending to be filmed for their YouTube channel? It’s all good. In fact, maybe it’s better. Maybe this weird school year will let the kids roam and not crush the curiosity out of them.
Even if it makes their conventional Dad uncomfortable.
If you’ve ever baked anything, chances are that you’ve used the muffin method at least once in your life. The muffin method is used in more than 50% of baked goods recipes. As the name implies, it’s great for making muffins but it’s also used for any dense treats like quick breads and pancakes which use a lot of liquid and not much fat.
I say “Lesson learned” a lot. Just ask Cecilia. If I was a 90s live-action Disney Dad the writers would turn it into my catchphrase. Each episode would end on a freeze frame of me shrugging off my terrible absent parenting with a sigh and a ‘Lesson learned.’
In reality (or what counts as reality in 2020) it drives Cece crazy but I’m not going to stop. Dripping water will eventually wear through concrete and part of my job as a Dad is to keep planting seeds. Some will never take, some will wilt and die, but some will flourish. So I’ll keep saying it.
The other night the kids and I were watching a cooking show (an actual cooking show not the weird competition shows that the Food Network has devolved into – a rant for another day) and as the guy was chopping up vegetables for a stew and discarding large chunks, Cecilia said, ‘He should really try to use more of that for stock, or like compost, or whatever, leaf to stem, right Dad?’ I might have passed out.
A passing comment here. A lesson learned there. Wonderful things can eventually happen. Maybe they’ll even plug in the vacuum one day.
You pretty much had me at apple but add cider and donut? There was never any doubt I was going to make this recipe. Looking at the tantalizing accompanying photo, I could practically taste the dying leaves, flannel, and wood smoke. I’d likely make a few changes if I make it again but it more than lived up to the hype. Despite the sugar topping, it was not overly sweet and can be eaten throughout the day. As if I needed the excuse!
I promised the girls that I’d make an apple crisp this week. It’s likely I said it during a Sunday afternoon napping haze but I said it. Ally, you won’t be surprised to learn, loves the gooey fall dessert. But then the week got busy. She asked about it on Monday. Then Tuesday. Then Wednesday.
Parents tell their kids a lot of things. We tell them we love them, of course. That they can do anything. That they can tell us anything.
But we also tell them little things. That we’ll take them to the park. That they should pick up their clothes. Or finish their broccoli. Or that you’ll make an apple crisp this week.
It seems like an easy thing to say at the time, a small promise, but the small ones are just important as the big ones. If you conveniently forget a small promise, how can they trust your word when it really counts? The small ones build trust. As we inch closer to the teenage hinterlands, I think I’m going to need to stockpile all the trust I can.
So I made the apple crisp. And it was good. And this mean my kids will never miss curfew and stay out of reform school, right?
After a couple of cool weeks, the last few days have brought a bit of Indian summer to late September. Not exactly the perfect weather for apple crisp but is there ever really a bad time to whip up this dessert? It’s a great way to use up some apples when you need a quick fall dessert but don’t feel like making pie dough. It uses mostly pantry ingredients, is very adaptable, tastes great, and comes together quickly enough for a weekday dinner treat. What’s not to like.
Here is my quick, simple, tasty 7-ingredient apple crisp recipe:
Typically as parents Michelle and I are pretty good at keeping one another afloat most weeks. If one is down, the other is up. It’s good teamwork or just a genetic survival mechanism. But this past week was a challenge. We could blame all sorts of things: school restarting, work, the ongoing pandemic, the news in general. Or just 2020 throwing its weight around and it had both of off balance.
Cecilia decided this was a good time to give me her opinion on my time management advice. She disagreed with it. I disagreed with her. Grievances were aired. I might be making this sound more civil than it was. If this blog had reenactments, it would make Lifetime movies look subtle.
We are both stubborn however only one of us is a parent. Michelle politely reminded me that I don’t get to throw up my hands. That’s not part of the job. I don’t even really get to have an opinion.
I might be tired and stressed and want to put my head in the vacuum until all these problems are over but there is no magical thinking as a Dad. Wishing and hoping does not change reality. Being a parent means you hold on long as you need to. Our feelings about it don’t count. Even if you think you could probably win an Emmy portraying yourself in Mike’s Window: Lies My Father Told Me…