That thing called hope - FamilyEducation

That thing called hope

March 07,2011
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

Sunday was a train wreck of a day, really--mostly due to one Science Fair project that is due today--a project that has existed in very hazy, uncertain terms in L.'s head for a couple of weeks now and which up until yesterday he had done almost zero concrete work on. It's not a mandatory project in that it won't be graded, but we dug our heels in on this one. There were times yesterday I wanted to wave the white flag; throw in that proverbial towel; flee the house and the Science Fair project. But Scott and I both agreed that it would be disappointing for L., and embarrassing for him, if he didn't turn in anything. Plus, he had the idea for an experiment in his head--unlocking it and getting it from there onto paper was the big challenge. Unfortunately, his experiment didn't lend itself easily to Science Fair Project reality and not only was L. completely unwilling to participate in the process of getting it from his head out into project form, but we weren't sure what to do with it, either. All the credit for what we did get out of L. in the end yesterday goes to Scott. The Science Fair Project Sunday as it turns out, will go down in our personal family history as Not My Finest Parenting Moment.

I'll say no more. But it was a no good, very difficult, very bad, very awful day and I was so glad to see the back of it.

In the morning, though, T. and I escaped for an hour and half (leaving Scott to wrestle the Science Fair Project dragon) to our local Buddhist/Meditation Center for some quiet contemplative time. I woke up craving it, and when I asked T. if she wanted to come along, she said she would. She loves the Children's Program there and always comes out of it bursting with the stories the teacher reads to the class, and always clutching some beautiful, sweet, inspired craft. I would like to say we manage to go there every Sunday, but sadly we don't. When we do go, though, I am always so grateful to be there. In fact, yesterday, I looked around at one point and thought to myself: I'm so happy to be here. It seems that many times we do get back to the Center only to stumble unexpectedly on some celebration scheduled for that day. It's always a nice surprise, and the kids love the sudden air of something special--a celebration that is sometimes grave and mysterious; other times joyful and sunny. This past Sunday was a joyful and sunny sort of celebration, marking the Tibetan New Year. T. was ushered off to the Children's Program and I settled into a chair, ready to give myself over to some peace at last. It was clear, though, that something special and different was going on. Before I knew it I was handed a small bowl filled with fragrant, sweet rice, and a hot cup of spicy Chai. Not long after the kids were brought back in to join in the festivities and T. sat happily by my feet, spooning her own rice into her mouth and sipping on apple juice. 

I wish L. had been there--he would have loved the ceremony, the feast of colors, the singing at the end, and the chance to mark another New Year. Later that evening, I tried to recreate the fragrant rice dish--basmati rice with golden raisins and unsalted cashews, and I made a pan of Chana Masala. Maybe this was an inappropriate blending of different tastes, traditions, and cultures, but it all went together just fine. I wish I could say that the beginning of this New Year--our third celebration so far--had started out in peace and happiness; instead it was more like a cyclone swept though our house yesterday, cutting a swath of damage in its wake. Maybe the saying that goes along with March: in like a lion, out like a lamb will hold true for this new start to a New Year.

I hope. 

 

Chana Masala with Fragrant Rice

2 cups water

2 large onions, chopped

1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1 can diced tomatoes

2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Salt to taste

Heat a little oil in a large saucepan or skillet. Add onions, garlic, and ginger and saute until translucent. Add all the spices and the sugar and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the diced tomatoes, the chickpeas and two cups of water. Stir to combine and let cook for about 20 minutes, depending on how thick you like your curry. If it thickens too much, you can add a little more water. 

Fragrant Rice:

Cook the amount of basmati rice you would usually make for your family. When it's done, stir in a tablespoon of Earth Balance (what I used) or butter. Add a cup of unsalted cashews and a cup of golden raisins. Mix to combine well and salt to taste.