Be the Wall & Weekend Bullet Points

1. Be the Wall. Many years ago, my beloved and I attended a few child rearing classes, from which the one thing I remember was the stern admonition to Be the Wall. Kids are going to want to test their ideas and your limits. If they get all emotional and vehement, interpret that to mean they trust you, their mother and father, enough to risk real exposure. This works from toddlerhood all the way to adulthood, and is in no way contradictory to being loving, supportive and gentle. Kids need to push to grow up, and pushing against people they love and trust, and who they know will love and trust them back even if – especially if! – the answer is ‘no’ is the best way for them to learn self control, self respect, and how to stand firm themselves.

So, parents must be the wall, neither giving an inch nor overreacting to the pushing. Not always easy, but necessary. A key part: knowing what you stand for, knowing the places you will not give. These should be few, and consistent. Everything else should be negotiable. With any luck, children so raised will be able to carry these lessons out into the world, and distinguish between principles and necessary rules, and things that can be negotiated. They will be able to behave as adults.

Image result for wall falling downWe live in a world of feral children – of all ages. They have pushed, and found no wall. Many times found no mother or father. They pushed, and one time, the wall fell with hardly a breeze; the next time, it pushed back violently. They pushed and pushed, and ended up in the streets, looking for something, anything, that will push back.

Thinks that should have been learned in the privacy of family life and that can only be learned in family life are now lacking in public life. Our feral children find no walls. The drive to push is unsatisfied and unabated.

2. Fight the Urge to Dirge. Ye Sons and Daughters is one fine Easter song, great tune, tells the story in a charming, memorable way. Only one problem: for some inexplicable reason, choir directors seem almost universally to take what should be something like a bouncy waltz, tempo and feel wise, and turn it into something more like a funeral processional. With a bit a vim, the song is catchy and easy; plodding, it is just another forgettable church song.

You can imagine what brought about these thoughts. We did do some glorious Easter hymns yesterday as well. But it hurts to see such a charming tune done so – bleech.

3. White Sunday/Mercy Sunday Pizza bash! Invited all sorts of Catholics with whom it is meet and just to be celebrating the end of the Easter Octave over – had maybe 30 adults and a dozen or more kids (many of whom wanted to make their own pizzas, which we did – maybe made 20 pizzas in all). Kept it going from 2:30 until after 9. A lot of fun.

Two thoughts, and if you have any suggestions, I’m all ears: when inviting people to something like this, it is customary for them to ask ‘what can we bring? aaaand customary for me (who tends to be the major cook for these things) to say ‘nothing’ or ‘something to drink’ – because trying to manage who brings what is just more trouble than it’s worth, But: people want to bring something, at least, I know I do when the roles (and, possibly, rolls) are reversed. So, this time, due to the large and uncertain numbers of people, I said: we’ll be providing main courses, you needn’t bring anything, but you can if you want.

So, yesterday, at 10:00 at night, I’m packing away A LOT of food. We ran through the pizza stuff, sure, but I made a vat of guacamole and about 8-9 lbs of pastrami with ciabatta rolls and fixings to match and – lots of stuff. But lovely and generous people also brought lots of delicious things, much of which got left. Into the freeze went pastrami, a couple chickens, a couple dozen ciabatta rolls. The fridge and a couple coolers are packed with salads and vegetables; my wife made delicious pashka and kulich – which got lost in a sea of wonderful desserts. So, into the freezer or coolers it goes.

There are only 4 to 6 of us at home (it varies because – story). I hate throwing food, especially really good food, out, so now I’m looking for homes for at least some of the more perishable stuff. Work, school, neighbors are all likely to get some nice gifts – but this becomes another task on top of set up, food prep and clean up.

I also hate telling people how to be generous and all the planning it takes to be able to say: no, we have enough salads, how about a dessert or some wine? Or whatever.

Thoughts?

Finally think I’m getting the hang of the brick oven. The usual advice is that each oven is different, you just have to use it and see what works. What works for this oven: at least a two-hour burn before you start cooking. Three hours is better, although this probably had something to do with all the rain making the whole oven a little damp. Then: just keep it going – at least 2 or three logs burning at the back in addition to all the hot coals while you cook. By the end, we were popping pizzas in and out in 2-3 minutes each. And they were excellent.

If I ever build another brick oven, please shoot me. I mean, I’ll make it more massive and better insulated. Also, getting the hang of Naples-style pizza dough, which you make a few days in advance and let chill until a few hours before you’ll be using it – slightly sour taste, excellent stretchy texture for making those lovely thin-crust pizzas that work so well in a brick oven. (I honestly cringed a little when the kids were manhandling those beautiful dough balls on the way to making cheese and olive or pepperoni over store-bought sauce pizzas – but that’s what they were there for! Deep breath. I do love kids more than cooking. Really. And they had a blast.)

Great fun. Looking forward to doing it again next year.

4. Finally, I compulsively reread this bit of flash fiction fluff, and got a little worried that people might think I was making fun of Southerners, when nothing was farther from my mind – Edgar and Bill are perfectly competent adults who love telling tales and maybe messing with the out of towner a bit. Colorful locals, in other words, not red neck morons. I worry some people don’t know the difference, one difference being that, in my experience, there are many more of the former than the latter.

Anyway, came across this YouTube video, wherein an English shipwright is rebuilding the Tally Ho, a hundred year old classic harbor clipper style racing yacht. He’s rebuilding it in Washington state, but needed a lot of extra-sturdy Southern live oak for the structural members.

Turns out that a man named Steve Cross in southern Georgia runs the only mill in America that handles live oak – the very characteristics that make it ideal for ship structural members render it very difficult and uneconomical for commercial mills to deal with. So Steve builds his own Rube Goldberg style mill out of parts from tractors, forklifts and combines and whatever else was lying around, and serves ship builders and restorers around the world.

He’s clearly a mechanical genius of sorts – and is just as clearly one of those colorful locals messing a bit – a completely friendly bit – with English Leo the shipwright.

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Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

7 thoughts on “Be the Wall & Weekend Bullet Points”

  1. If there isn’t a specific thing you really need, say “Well, is there something you’d like to bring? I’ll write it down and we can try to avoid getting too much! (Suggestion) might be good.” Chips are usually what I go with for the suggestion– they store well, and having a big variety is good, and you can always drop them off at various places if they’re not open. Like the fire department, or police station.

    1. That’s good. I’m looking at a 2.5 lbs Costco bag of tortilla chips at the moment – that’s what O bought, it never got opened as the influx of appetizers was a couple feet above flood level. But they’ll keep. Can’t say the same about the vat of guacamole they were to go with. I think my coworkers are in for a treat.

      I usually suggest ‘something to drink’ knowing that things in bottles tend to keep well (except for beer – just gotta drink that up. Seriously, 6 or 12 month old beer – yeach!)

      1. Joseph

        How about dessert? Can never have too many apple pies? 🙂 Seriously why not suggest people to bring say turrons, brownies muffins etc? Stuff that can be frozen if necessary and then thawed and eaten later?
        Sangria is another possibility along with fruit juices in tetrapacs (they can last up to a year)
        Paper plates and cuts as well as disposible utensils

        xavier

    2. Our approach, if people insist, is to outline what we’re planning to prepare and let them decide what to bring. If they’re really at a loss, chips or a drink of some sort are what we suggest, especially bottles of juice or something like that for kids since we don’t keep fruit juice on hand.

      I wish I were as good with writing things down, but I tend to keep a rough mental tally of what people say they’ll bring, and can redirect if we’re getting too many offers of one thing.

  2. [I’m not sure if I’m posting twice since a previous comment doesn’t seem to have appeared.]

    I think I grew up with rules but no principles. The rules were, go to school and get Cs or better or you’re grounded. My life was mainly about waiting for school to be over and dreading it starting up again. The main purpose of school seemed to be to supply ways of getting into trouble, mostly by neglecting the requirements of school or trying to escape from it, either by not going, or by drugs, or both.

    Somehow by the time I had kids, I had learned the art of rational parenting. Not that I’m always rational in my behavior, but somehow my kids were never “in trouble” in the way that I always was, and I think that’s because they understood why they were required to do certain things and avoid others. And as you say, distinguishing between principles and rules and things that were negotiable.

    I agree with you that the places you should not give should be few and consistent. Whenever we were at an impasse, it seemed like at the very least, we could come to a point where we understood each other. But occasions when we understood each other yet still disagreed about the best course of action, were pretty darn rare. Rational discussion almost always brought us to the same conclusion. Probably because the underlying principles were understood and agreed upon, or at least taken for granted, so that it was mainly a matter of seeing how the principles applied to the situation.

    So, maybe what causes chaotic parenting is lack of principles. You force kids to do things without showing how your agreed principles require the thing, and the kids don’t see the point of it so they put little or no effort into it, or rebel outright.

    I understand the dilemma about people wanting to bring food. We had people over for Easter and one of our guests offered to bring roast lamb! I said thanks anyway but we already had three (!) meat dishes, so how about a vegetable or a dessert instead. (For some reason we were short on vegetables.) This went against my wife’s grain since she thinks a guest should never bring anything. She also forbids guests to help clean up. But when she goes to your house, she’ll insist that as a guest she has a right to wash your dishes. Ah well, it’s a nice problem to have, too much food and too many people wanting to help out.

    Along the lines of what Foxfier said, I think wine is often a good suggestion. People like to bring wines that they like, and although you end up with more than you can drink, at least it’s in sealed bottles that you can store and drink later, or give away.

    1. Often I overgeneralize, or ignore free will: sometimes people choose to be better, as you did, Sometimes worse, as happens even to the best of parents. Glad to hear your family has worked this out.

      Perhaps my sample is biased. I mostly see families from our school, where maybe a little more than half of the kids are there because they simply could not function in a graded classroom school. Unfortunately, more often than not this seems tied to their parents not being able to function either.

      Being gracious as a guest or host is another thing not often learned. even with emails and texts, RSVPs seem less automatic than they should be.

      When having small numbers of guests, I’ll say wine if they ask what to bring. But pizza blowouts run in the dozens, which makes that impractical, at least until I get a much larger wine cooler. ;-). I play the cleanup angle by ear – if it looks like help would, you know, help, I’ll offer or jut jump in. But I never expect people to help clean up after a party I throw.

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