Change has been the general theme for us around here. There's been the start of school with a new teacher in a new classroom to adjust to, a bit of travel thrown in, and of course there's the weather which is being its usual Pacific Northwest self: predictably unpredictable.
I've been realizing more and more, though, that that's okay. To have things shift around, make you suddenly crazy-busy or just feel crazy. To not be sure if it's going to rain downpourishly for the five days or not. We just can't predict much of it, but we can adjust to the changes as they happen.
One of the main reasons why I've been thinking this way, in addition to the above mentioned stuff, is that we've had a lot of incredibly challenging moments recently with Kingston, in terms of his behavior. It is absolutely developmentally normal for kids of his age (four going on five) to want to say just what they think (often in a less than kind way), assert themselves boldly and completely ignore what you or any other grown up asks them to do.
This is hard.
Okay, that was an understatement.
It is terribly, terribly hard. But I've learned, with the help of some very smart and loving people in my life, that it's okay to feel that it's just awful and that what a kid who is not behaving and even being aggressive needs more than anything is a combination of empathy and authority. Hold the boundaries! Set limits! But do it with warmth and love.
One person even described it to me like this: "You're the benevolent queen...Act like the benevolent queen."
After she said that, things just clicked. Kingston and I started to get along better. As the queen of my kingdom, I said enough when it was enough (Um, like, no, we can't put "Froggy Went A' Courtin'" on a loop so that it's the only song that plays for every single second of the day just because that's what you want even if you scream about it.).
And things have started slowly to change. My little minion (said lovingly, of course) seems to be getting that I'm firmly saying no or correcting him because I love him and don't want him to grow up to be a narcissistic terror of a person. Or maybe, he doesn't understand it that way, per say; he just knows that mama loves him. Period.
Underneath that sometimes tough queenly benevolence, good things have come to the surface for us. I've been feeling cautious relief. Especially when we have moments like yesterday, when we lay in bed in the morning and drew tons of spider webs together in an old notebook. Or, later the same afternoon, when we sat at the table and drank hot chocolate together, addressing one another as Mr. Dog (him) and Mr. Cat (me).
Life reminder: when you can ride through the changes, the really difficult moments, allowing the stuff underneath to rise to the surface, you'll be surprised, maybe even grateful. Oh, and don't forget that you are the benevolent ruler of your own little kingdom, indeed.
Speaking of what lies beneath the surface... I don't know why it took me so long to read Susannah Clarke's wonderful novel, but an 800-page book about magic and fairies and spells to summon anyone you want through time and space... Well, that was a good, escapist thing to be reading while going through my ups and downs with my child. One day, snatching a few minutes to read while locked in the bathroom (okay, other parents, feel free to admit that you have done this), I came across the above passage and decided I had to make my own pork pie. Nothing, nothing at all like an English pork pie, which is packed to the limit with various incarnations of pork products so that it's actually more like a crust-encased terrine. Nope, this is my version, which probably more closely resembles a sort of pot pie and is packed with potatoes and apples instead. Magical in its own way. Enjoy!
Magical Pork Pie
One recipe for double-crust pie, such as this one.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. ground pork
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
1/4 teaspoon of dried red chili flakes
3/4 lb. potatoes (about 3 medium), peeled and cubed
1/4 cup water or broth
2 medium apples (such as Golden Delicious), peeled and cubed
salt and pepper
1 egg yolk
Roll out half of pie dough into a 14-inch diameter circle. Place in glass pie pan. Trim so that there is a 1-inch overhang. Wrap well and place in fridge. Roll out top crust in same manner and place on a baking tray. Cover well and place in fridge. Crust should be chilled for 2 hours to overnight.
Prepare filling. In a large pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sautee until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, cook for another minute then add pork, breaking up with wooden spoon. Add another 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sautee until pork is browned. Add sage and chili flakes. Give the mixture a good stir then add potatoes, stirring to combine. Add water and remaining salt then cover, turning down heat. Cook on low for 10 minutes. Uncover, then add apples, cooking for additional 10 to 15 minutes. Add freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust for salt as well. Remove filling from heat. (I like the filling to be at least lukewarm when putting this into the crust, but it will also work if you're in a rush and filling is hot. Just work quickly!)
When you are ready to put the pie together, preheat oven to 450°F. Spoon filling into prepared bottom crust. Cover with top crust, cutting vent holes for steam release. Beat egg yolk and water together. Brush egg wash over top crust. Place pie on middle rack. Bake for 15 minutes then turn temperature down to 400°F. Bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes, until crust is golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.