Last night, my daughter wanted to prepare some pecan pie tartlets for school. You see, her creative English teacher decided they were going to have a Southern meal while in character. They are in the process of reading my favorite novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Having forgotten to purchase the items on my grocery store run during my lunch hour, I trudged back by the market on my way home from work. Upon arriving at the house thirty minutes later than expected, I realized that between baking and helping her study for a test, I’d not have the time to plant the mums or work in the garden before the autumn sun set at 7:30. I really needed my outdoor time, but it wasn’t to be. I will admit that I was a bit grumpy.
After dinner, we began the process of baking. It took a bit of patience for me as she wanted to take her time, and I just wanted to get done. Often, I have to slow down and remember that she and I are very different chefs. She likes recipes and measuring cups and order. I prefer guesswork and handfuls and creativity. I then have to remind myself that I used to bake like her too, and those strategies are what gave me the confidence to become the baker I am today.
As we worked together, I watched how she mixed and moved. It was very different from me, and at times, I had to catch myself so that I didn’t step on her toes, literally and figuratively, Correcting her would have only diminished the time and attention she was giving to her school project, and anyway, who’s to say her way needs correcting?
Sometimes in life, we assume our way is best, that what we do is “right” or “better.” What that mindset serves to do is set up an “us/them” mentality–creating unnecessary walls, divisions or stereotypes and preventing us from learning new ways of doing things. In the end, we are the ones actually limiting our own world by thinking we need to change everyone else’s.
As my daughter carefully spooned the pie mix into the tiny crusts, I watched her precision. Yes, it was taking her much longer than it would me to do it (I normally don’t care if I drip stuff on around the edges of a muffin tin.), but she’d have less clean up when it was done. And, her beautiful pies symbolized a care and attention that she wanted to share with her classmates and teacher. Pretty special.