Monday, March 9, 2009

Falling down

I was all prepared to share my latest Sunday dinner triumph featuring scalloped potatoes, but skating lessons tonight changed my mind. Some context...

My older son has always been incredibly cautious. He does not dive into life, he moves forward tentatively with a certainty that eventually, he will be proved 'not good enough'. My husband and I have gone to great lengths to teach our (six year old!) son that the glass is half full and his best effort is always good enough but his brain is wired au contraire. Take skating lessons. This is our first Winter of skating lessons and after some initial hesitancy, things have been going very well. Last week we (meaning he) discovered gliding and it was smiles all around. Tonight, however, it was apparent from where I was sitting (in the heated viewing gallery, thank you very much) that we (again, he) were not impressed. After he stepped off the ice I inquired as to what the problem was. Evidentally, the teacher was asking the students to pick up the pace now that everyone is fairly stable on their skates. "She wants us to go faster." He said. "She's gone too far!" I had noticed my son lagging behind at the back of the group and asked him why he didn't try to go faster. Were his skates too tight? Too loose? Were his feet cold? Was he tired? "Because I'll fall." he said, looking at me like I was an idiot. He's figured it out, see - you go fast, you fall. You don't go fast, you stay on your feet. So why bother with fast? You might fall down.

Which brings me to Sunday dinner. I have been lusting over lemon pie for a couple of weeks and when I opened up Chatelaine for March, which arrived in the mail Friday, low and behold, lemon meringue pie, page 36. So I set to work making what I was certain would be the best lemon meringue pie ever. Except it wasn't. At one point I added too much water to the lemon filling. Then the filling wouldn't thicken, despite me keeping it on the heat for at least twice as long as was indicated in the recipe. And don't get me started on my pathetic meringue. It wasn't peaked nor was it perky. It was lifeless and rather lackluster. Still, the pie looked okay when I finally pulled it out of the oven. But as soon as I attempted to cut the first piece I knew all bets were off. It was an oozy, goopey mess. It looked like runny scrambled eggs with melted marshmallow on top. The crust variously dissolved under the wet filling or stuck fast to the bottom of the pie plate. I should have served it in bowls and called it lemon pudding (glass half full) but instead I served it to my family and sulked all the way through dessert. All through clean-up I bemoaned the crap lemon meringue pie, despite all of the adoring praise my husband heaped on the rest of the meal, and my cooking in general. In my head I was decided. I would never, ever attempt lemon meringue pie again. In fact, I might just swear off pie in general. I was obviously not made to bake pie. I'm no good at pie. I'll stick to cake, thank you very much.

And then tonight, I found myself trying to explain to my dear son that it's okay to fall down. Falling down is part of learning, particularly when you're learning to skate. And I realized that despite me thinking I'm glass half full, I sometimes wallow in half empty. I need to embrace falling down more often. I need to share falling down with my kids so they can see that everyone falls down. So here, for the record is my lemon meringue pie. As advertised it is not my best effort. Next time I'll read through the recipe before I begin, double check my measurements and cooking temperature and work a bit more slowly. I fell down, but I can get back up and try again.

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