Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Lemon chicken and mushroom stir fry

What to do with two leftover chicken thighs marinating in buttermilk... It's not enough meat on its own. But mushrooms are kind of meaty. Why not chop up some shitake and portobello and add them to the chicken? Make a sauce with 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup chicken broth, 2 tablespoons mirin, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and a bit of oil, cook the chicken first, then add the mushrooms, then throw in a bunch of watercress at the end. Garnish with chopped scallions and toasted sesame seeds. Dinner in 20 minutes.

What I'm really thinking about tonight is the way Jasper processes through play. Recently I had to take him in for a blood test (to check if he's getting enough iron and make sure there's not too much lead in his blood). This was traumatic for him, though the sweet phlebotemist was gentle and let us watch Tom and Jerry cartoons for about half an hour afterwards.

Ever since then Jasper has been reenacting the scene with his toys. A few times a day we take Elmo, Ernie, that goofy baby I made from a pant leg, or Mr. Potato Head to "take blood out," and we pass through all the significant markers in that ritual. First, we insert the needle. Then the three bottles must be filled. After removing the needle we place a bandage on the critter's arm and Jasper always points out that the bandage has kitty cats on it (his was a Garfield bandage). Then the critter is presented with lollipops and he selects a yellow one. And finally, we move on to watch cartoons. I sing the theme song to Tom and Jerry, complete with Tom pretending to roar.

Jasper performs a whole repertoire of ministrations on his baby, from changing its diaper to feeding it. After we gave Jasper some cough medicine so he could sleep one late night he started giving the baby cough medicine. When I tried to put warm compresses on Jasper's eyes during his conjunctivitis he started doing the same to the baby. Sometimes the baby just cries cries cries -- he always repeats the word three times in a row -- and we must figure out what's wrong.

Children can be so transparent in their motivations and needs, and I love that about Jasper. What a relief for a parent that everyday traumas, like having blood removed, will not undo children. They have very healthy mechanisms to help them come to terms with those events. Are they enough, though? Is the blood story still mysterious? Why does a doctor need to see his blood to make sure he's healthy? What magic resides in the blood? Maybe every time we reenact that ritual a tiny bit of the mystery wears off. Maybe reenacting gives Jasper control and power over that traumatic scene.

We do that, too, in a way -- or at least I do. I replay unpleasant and painful moments in my mind, often rescripting what I say or do. This gives me a small measure of relief, taking control over a situation in which I felt too vulnerable or not in control. And maybe that's what parenthood is as well -- or maybe it's one of our motivations to become parents. It's the opportunity to revisit some of the more troubling moments in your childhood, when you felt most vulnerable and least in control, and reenact them as the member who is in control.

But it doesn't work. I still have to take Jasper to a plebotemist to have his blood tested. I can't prevent every painful moment, every trauma. Sometimes all I can do is provide comfort and play along as Jasper puzzles out his life.

1 comment:

shaunamama said...

Oh my goodness Adriana, I can SO relate to this topic about Jasper. I could talk about this one for hours.

Children are amazing healers of themselves. They are fabulously resilient if given the appropriate environment to do so. You are obviously providing that for Jasper as he is so loving to his "critters" when he's going through those reenactments. I've seen first had the resiliency of children even when they go through something that's not an everyday trauma. They're simply amazing.

It's one of the most difficult jobs we have as parents...realizing that we can't protect them from everything that can harm them. We have to pick the obvious ones and hope that it's good enough and provide the comfort they need so they can pick themselves up again smarter and hopefully tougher.

This was a great post. Thanks for sharing.