February 5th, 2018
Saturday night, around Midnight, I made my 13-year-old, vegan daughter, a bowl of fried rice and tofu. I made it because she was hungry.
I got out the cooked medium-grain rice, the soft tofu, the oil, then, soy sauce, scallions, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, spicy chilli crisp, lime, salt, and my smallest carbon steel wok and got to work.
I didn’t have to cook for Lucy at Midnight. And truly, I had every reason to say no. But these days, she is almost always mad at me. No. Not mad. Raging. She is a fiery, lava-spitting, opinionated, uncensorable volcano always on the verge of erupting and frying us all.
“I can’t wait to move away from this family!” she often screeches at us now, usually with a door slam and hurling herself face first into her bed.
Only a few hours before, she had raged at me because there was a sink full of dishes and she couldn’t find a clean glass. She wasn’t just lamenting the glass, she was skewering my failings as a mom. She was vicious about the state of my housekeeping. Which, when I’m writing alot is questionable, I admit.
She punctured me.
I know her anger isn’t about me or my inability to just hit the Go button on the dishwasher (why is that so hard for me?) It’s 13. It’s hormones. It’s striking off on her own. She is starting to leave me. I already can see the day, in my head, she moves out for the last time. It’s years away, but close.
There isn’t a lot of time for me to spend being the enemy.
So I made the rice. And I delivered it to her, steaming, in her room, in a warm bowl with a fork. Not a spoon. Not chopsticks. Not a ceramic Chinese spoon, like I like to use. Nope. A fork. She has her own way. She prefers to eat fried rice with a fork, because she has more control of her food, she told me once. So fork it is.
“I like how crunchy it is,” she said, taking a bite.
I added lots of crunch because I know she has food texture issues, nothing slimy, or remotely slime-like. I added sesame seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, toasted sticky rice, crispy-fried shallots.
She smiled. I smiled. That bowl of rice gave us both a reprieve. A place to begin again.
This was a good use of my middle-of-the-night.
Lucy wants her freedom. And I will give it, doling it out a little at a time over the following months and years, until there is no more freedom to give her because she has earned it, won it, taken it. But when she asks me to make vegan tofu fried rice for her at Midnight, I’m going to fucking do it.
It’s fear cooking. I know. But I’m doing it anyway.