The Culinary Hug

My wife will, on occasion, get on my case about coddling my 13-year-old son, Flynn, with food. He’ll ask me to fix him a bowl of cereal, or put the butter on his waffles and cut them into bite-size pieces.

“He’s old enough to be doing that himself,” she’ll say. “When Kristen’s boys were that age….”

Teaching the boy about eating at the bar

Teaching the boy about eating at the bar

Her point of reference is inevitably her sister, Kristen’s, boys: “When Kristen’s boys were that age, they could [INSERT REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENT HERE].” It would seem as if Kristen’s kids could build themselves log cabins and kill and skin their dinner before they could crawl.

I don’t prepare food for him because I think he is incapable, or because I want to stunt his independence. I do it because it brings him a sense of comfort and well-being. It’s like a food safety blanket — a culinary hug.

Flynn is getting better at making himself stuff. He likes to prepare some things — toast, mac & cheese, butter noodles — himself. “I got it, Dad,” he’ll say. It’s fun to watch him make himself something, sit down to eat it, and feel like he did a good job. One day, he will want to learn to make a pasta or risotto, a grilled steak or a sushi roll, and I will mentor him. It will be the passing of a torch between father and son. Another kind of culinary hug.

And yet: “Dad, I’ll have this cereal please,” setting the box on the counter and going to brush his hair for school. He’s still a kid.

When I was his age, I was already making linguini and clam sauce. And yet, I recall the feeling of being called to the table for a bowl of Mom’s homemade soup, love distilled into something I could slurp from a spoon.

“Sean,” people will say when I offer to cook for their parties or social gatherings, “You’re ALWAY cooking. We want you to have a break.” Which I appreciate. However, I am always happy to cook for the people I love. It is my love for them distilled into something I know brings them joy. It is a hug.

Flynn also likes it when I warm up the car before driving him to school. He likes his cloud night light turned on for him, and he likes to see what kind of treat I pack in his lunch each day. We should never underestimate the power and importance of little things in life that help stave off loneliness and make the world feel like a safer, gentler place.

They, too, are hugs.

 

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joy Neubert
    Oct 14, 2016 @ 00:25:12

    True. You never know where your influence will go. Keep on trucking!
    Good stuff.
    Joy from Big Wolf

    Reply

  2. Mom
    Oct 14, 2016 @ 00:31:59

    I used to stick little love notes in my kids lunches from time to time.

    Reply

  3. dennis w colgin
    Oct 14, 2016 @ 01:08:12

    sean hell with the cereal give flynn that nice looking beer you have see you tomorrow bro den

    Reply

  4. Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
    Oct 14, 2016 @ 02:25:44

    How you love your children, what you do for your children, as a Mom of five-I know. Allow independence for them but do for them those small things that exhibits Love and Hugs! One day Sean they’ll be on their own and those fond, loving special moments will linger in their hearts. Because my children are my heart! My Mom and Dad (Dad owned a Restaurant while I was growing up-yes a Chef) I loveeeee when he makes a special dish for me-it is with love. If he grabs my hand to hold just like he did when I was a young child going out to lunch with him on a Saturday afternoon. His strength, warmth always comforted me it does today. Flynn will be a mans man you’ll see to it-he will always remember those little things my friend. Cheryl

    Reply

  5. Michelle
    Oct 14, 2016 @ 22:58:04

    Sweet.

    Reply

  6. pal-O
    Oct 20, 2016 @ 22:47:00

    That was a nice warm long distance hug brother!

    Reply

  7. reocochran
    Dec 13, 2016 @ 00:41:07

    Yes, there is no time limit on love doled out in food preparation or gifts of time. I like your being a Dad who does things like this for his son! 🙂

    Reply

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