Thanksgiving 2012 was a wonderful day for the Love-Kiech household! We spent the day with our extended family. My kids were sweet and even entertaining, judging by the apparent amusement of their 2 visiting teenage cousins. Gryphy was cute and goofy and made everyone laugh. My in-laws came and brought delicious dishes to complement the menu. My sister stayed late and helped tremendously with cleanup and entertaining the kids. I felt delighted and appreciative.
There was one meltdown which was the result of a brief interaction between my father and my 12-year-old daughter, as she attempted to help me with some of the cooking. She was doing a fine job, stirring the onions and organic chicken broth for the stuffing, when my dad stepped in with some of his well-intended cautionary advice on how to properly hold the pan while on the stove so as to avoid it, or its contents, falling upon her and burning her.
I don’t think he realizes what a tentative person she actually is, or how accident prone she is not. Even as a toddler she rarely made reckless moves. She has always stepped gingerly into most of her endeavors. That is not to say she lacks courage. She simply has an innately strong sense of self-preservation. Regardless, she, somehow in her twelve-and-a-half-year-old mind, interpreted her grandfather’s sagacious safety demonstration as criticism and turned on a dime, in less than 10 seconds, from a joyous and proud ‘I’m-helping-Mom-prepare-the-Thanksgiving-meal’ mode to a tearful ‘I’m-feeling-picked-on’ mode.
I didn’t blame her for this particular mood crash, as I was witness to the moment and for the most part empathetic to both parties about what occurred. My dad felt terrible of course, once he’d realized (too late) that he’d hurt her feelings. I am still trying to grasp exactly why it wounded her so deeply. I wondered in astonishment, Are you really crying about this right now?! I have been trying to get her interested in cooking lately, as I feel that having some skill in that arena does enhance one’s life. Not you’re a young woman, so you must learn to cook for your man but rather,when you know how to cook, it can cheer you up on a bad day, to be able to take a few simple ingredients and transform them into something delicious. Even if it’s a gift you give only to yourself. So for this whole incident to transpire, on a day as monumental as Thanksgiving, when I didn’t seem to have a moment to fall out of line to console her, felt like a pretty big setback to the cooking-as-life-enrichment path I’ve started her on.
I tried to quickly explain that she should essentially be patient and understanding with her Ga-Ga, as truly, he means well and knows not what he does. However, I was also literally in the heated midst of bringing the entire Thanksgiving food orchestra to its crescendo; I felt I couldn’t take a time out to soothe her injured psyche. Looking back, maybe I should have done so anyway. Would it have really mattered if the stuffing was burned or the potatoes were cold? I did feel badly for her although I didn’t entirely grasp the intensity with which she was feeling this emotional bruise. Fortunately, her dad took her aside and counseled her, gently helping her to breathe through the moment and to calm down. Somehow his kind spirit brought her back to a happy place. I acknowledge that as nothing less than a miracle. She seemed to have a great time for the rest of the day.
Signs point to her making a full recovery from this episode. She baked chocolate chip cookies the night after Thanksgiving with no prompting from anyone. We used to bake together when she was a little girl and apparently that left a positive enough impression on her. She actually bakes as a hobby now. She’s pretty good at it, too! Sometimes her cookies rival mine. Even though I’m trying to eat gluten-free or at least low-gluten, I’ve sampled her baked goods and they are impressive.
I certainly have high hopes for my daughter and her future relationship with her GaGa. (Sorry Lady GaGa, my kids have been calling him that for 12 years- since long before any of us had ever heard of you.) I know he cares about her and she knows he is just overprotective. “If he made her cry in less than a minute,” I told my husband, “imagine what it was like for me, growing up with him.” I was half-joking. Greg laughed. Actually my dad was a great parent overall, but there were certainly moments where his temper, his confusing views about the role of a human female in this world, or his overprotective nature sometimes made me cry and/ or full of angst.
Now that I’m older, I feel very close to my dad. If something were to happen to him, I’d be devastated. It’s strange how you get to know someone over a lifetime and if they care enough to stick around, which I’m grateful that my dad did, you can even justify many of their faults to some degree. I know he is trying his best and I wish I could do more to help him. I hate that he worked himself to the point of near physical breakdown for his entire life to support us, and is still working his ass off at a job that he doesn’t like much in order to live in a tiny one-bedroom condo.
I am grateful for the fact that he is getting to know my kids- and that despite any bumps in the road and the generation gap, a road does exist for them to tread together and learn about each other.