A few days ago, one of my aspiring young chefs decided that she wanted to make something special for our family. Thanks to a school event, she had watched and participated in putting together a meal of home-made fettuccine with Alfredo sauce. The deliciousness of her entire experience had parked itself at the front of her thoughts and she couldn’t wait to recreate the same affair in our own kitchen for us.
“But we don’t have a pasta machine,” I explained to her.
“Neither did we,” she explained. “We made the pasta then flattened it with rolling pins. After than we folded it over itself and rolled it like cinnamon rolls then cut it into thin strips with a knife. It worked great!”
Hmm… Sounded interesting and very doable.
While she was at school, I headed to Jimmy’s Food Store on Bryan Street to get pasta flour. I mean if she’s ready to go the extra mile, I’m happy to help. I took my time inhaling every heavenly smell as I searched the aisles for the flour which I bought then returned home.
The kid met me at the door, grabbed the goods and headed to the kitchen to get started on her creation. Needless to say, it didn’t go quite as planned. We should have known that a small disaster was brewing the minute she couldn’t find the rolling pin. But her positive attitude and determination kept her going.
By the time I returned from grabbing and taking kids places, a kitchen mess seemed to be winning. Between rolls (with a drinking glass) and cuts of her dough, she started the sauce and prepared a large pot of boiling water. I watched her introduce “noodles”, the result of her flour/egg rolling and cutting concoction, to the water and cringed slightly at the glops that sank to the bottom. Her sister standing close by voiced the concern I felt.
“Those look … ummm… well, is that how they’re supposed to look?”
The frustrated cook grumped her response, “They didn’t work exactly like I thought, but I did it right. It’s going to be delicious!”
Before long, we sat down to dinner, looking at our plates with hesitation. Normally the kids support each other’s meals. But somewhere along the way, the gloves have come off.
Questioning eyes and a few snide remarks set off the cook, who was also concerned, and a bit tired from all her effort. “I have been working really hard -” she snipped.
“It looks wonderful,” I jump in, zipping the on-looking sister. “The sauce smells delicious.” I add hopefully. Because it did. Then, I led the way in putting a big clump of the pasta on my fork and lifted it to my mouth. Needless to say, the concoction was disturbing, dare I say inedible. I fought through the mound in my mouth and choke-swallowed.
Somehow the cook happily munched through her plate, humming in delight at the deliciousness of it all. “Don’t you LOVE it?!” she asked us.
I lied. “It really IS good, sweetheart.” She had worked so hard. How could I tell her the truth?
“It’s disgusting,” shot her sister from across the table. “Listen, I’m not going to lie to you. It’s terrible. I don’t know what went wrong. The sauce is good, but the noodles – well – they’re pretty bad.”
The cook let it sink in. Hurt, she replied, “Well, I like them.” The rest of us sat silent, with no response.
And that was that. We finished in peace, grateful that bread and salad graced our plates.
I thought about the interaction as I watched my crew clean up. And I appreciated the kid who told the truth – even when it was hard. I couldn’t believe I lied. My response, though well-intentioned, lacked truth.
I chewed on the brave way the cook’s sister stepped up. She didn’t say it in a hurtful way, but with real-friend reality.
It reminded me of the time she had done the same for me. A local live morning show had invited me to come share a little about Cleaning House and our story. I asked the camera guys to tell me if anything was off like my outfit, hair, whatever– but no one said a word.
After a fun interaction with the host, I headed off the set and was showered with praise. A couple calls from friends did the same – even when I asked for honest feedback. Until I called my sweet daughter.
“Mom… You did a terrific job, but I have to tell you something… [pause] … Well, your shirt was open a little. I’m so sorry. I don’t think it was too bad, but it was open. Everyone could see your bra. But it didn’t last long. They cut away pretty quickly.”
They were hard words to hear. But she was the ONLY one honest enough to tell me the truth. Her actions spoke loudly about her love for me. She loves me enough to share the hard things. And you know what? Her honesty solidified my trust in her. As did the way she matter-of-factly and honestly told our cook the truth.
I want friends like her. I want to be a friend like her. I’m hope I’m a friend that can receive it.
That gloppy “pasta” may not have offered the best nourishment, but it certainly served as a good reminder on true friendship.
Thanks for walking the road with me.