Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Trouble With Pancakes

The other day I was speaking to a neighbor about my oldest son entering high school next year. Just as in middle school, I know he will enter as one person, and come out as someone else. There’s a part of me that wants to say to him, “Can you just go shoot heroin and impregnate a minor and get it over with, so I don’t have to sit around worrying about it all the time?”

This neighbor has an older boy – a high school junior who is her oldest child – and she talked about the ups and downs he’s experienced over the past three years. She talked about his struggle to find himself and define himself. And her own struggle to recalibrate her expectations accordingly.

She said something like, “You know what they say about pancakes? You always end up throwing the first one away.”

Well, I make pancakes every weekend. Not just for Sunday breakfast, either. I make a big batch that goes in the freezer and I use them all week. (I put vanilla flavored soy protein in the batter so my kids are eating something a little more nutritious than maple-covered cake, although that fact is not at all germane to the story.) The point is, I know the oldest child is "the experiment." The one you learn on and with whom you work out the kinks. But my pancakes are actually pretty good – golden and fluffy – right from the get go. If anything, it’s the later ones that I have to toss. The ones that I’ve stopped paying attention to as I go quickly to check my email while they’re on the griddle. It happens almost every weekend. Three mid-batter pancakes become black and charred and I have to let the griddle cool down and start all over again.

And every weekend, as I toss the burnt discs into the trash, I vow I will pay closer attention next week. I will get through my whole bowl of batter without losing a single pancake to distraction or ennui. How hard could that be, really?

I don’t want parenting to be at all like making pancakes. Or muffins. Or any delicate little breakfast food.

I want it to be like soup. Where you can just throw everything you’ve got into it and, with enough salt and garlic, it will turn out simply amazing.


  1. Mmm. Now I have a craving for pancake soup.

  2. well then...go ahead! Soup making time!...and remember, you can't use too much garlic, but watch out for the salt.

  3. Parenting teenagers...hmmm...hormones...unreasonable...
    moody...the greatest thing my father taught me about this through example is that so long as you talk to as opposed to at them you should be able to get out of the gate. Listen, don't just hear. What they are going through can be so far away from what we call real life that its hard to realize how important it is to them. When in doubt...breathe... lol I pray on this myself. Loving our children is one thing, knowing and liking them...now there's the challenge! I myself, have four great kids, right now I have a 15 year old son who looks at me like I'm from Mars and thinks everything I say is exasperating. I look at my towering, lanky boy and hold onto that he will return to that wonderful inner self, as did his older brothers when his hormones stop invading every inch of his brain! lol

  4. Soup ? ... interesting! My soup is still in the pre-teen (or tween) stage, so I'm sure I'll find some new ingredients to add! Have any good recipes?
    Laurie O