Sunday, April 21, 2013

I've read a number of articles about helicopter parents.  These are folks that would rather do everything for their child instead of letting them learn - and probably making a lot of mistakes in the process - of how to do things for themselves.  It has been interesting to finally read some articles about studies that show that this kind of parenting actually harms a child versus helping them learn much of anything on their own in life.

I must admit, with my son, that teaching him how to cook has not been high on my list of priorities in life.  I just have never had the patience.  It's easier for me to whip something up and serve it to him than to have to go through all that process to teach him how to cook.  My ex-wife, apparently, the same way.

I say that because he has finally taken it upon himself that in order to be able to make it on his own? Cooking is a big part of that.  Sure, you can do microwave junk and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; cereal with milk, but is that going to cut it for the rest of your life?  So yesterday, he determined he was going to cook his own dinner.  I was amused by that idea, but I didn't show it.  I wondered how he would do on his own without any supervision?  But I was all for it, don't get me wrong.

So, while I was outside working on the various - numerous - parts of the yard that need attention - he went to the store.  He came back some 30 minutes later with a bag of brown rice and a package of beef stew meat.  This is ground round or something similar that has been cut into small portions that are apparently the butcher's idea of pre-cut, pre-packaged stew meat.  Okay.  He didn't know any better and I didn't even try to correct him, just figured we would see where this goes.

Well I was on the phone with my mother when he came back home and he informed me he wasn't going to do this without at least my supervision on the project.  Okay, I can do that, but I am not going to do the work.  He's going to do all of it.  I had no clue what to do with stew meat? Except put it into a stew?  But he was hungry, so improvisation was the necessity of the minute.

I went inside and decided that he was going to cook that rice first.  This was NOT instant rice, this is the long cooking term stuff.  So he got that on the stove - after I corrected him a few times on not following the instructions on the package. After about 30 minutes, we got started on the stew meat.  I decided that frying it in a cast iron skillet with some olive oil would probably turn out okay if it had some kind of something on top of it - so I got out a packet of fat-free beef gravy.  I had him do the "work". This was a pretty simple dish.  Nothing too extravagant here.

He got the oil in there - put too much in so I just hinted next time about half of what he had in there would suffice - got the burner on and then we waited.  After it was nice and hot, I had him dump the stew meat in there and stir it around a bit, get it frying nicely.  I then pulled out some spices and showed him how to spice meat without going overboard.  His attempt? Definitely overboard but I stopped him before it was going to get overwhelming and then showed him my version of wrist action to get the spice out all over everything without over-spicing it.

While that was going on, I had him read the instructions on the gravy packet.  Very simple, but many people don't seem to get that you must mix it with COLD water or it's going to lump up and it's not going to turn out very well.  So I sort of re-iterated that a few times: cold water and whisk thoroughly until it's all absorbed into the water.

I kept on top of him - in a non-intrusive way - about keeping an eye on the meat.  Don't want to over cook it and need to keep it moving around since it's frying at a high temperature.  I figured the best way to show him how to see if beef is cooked to  his liking or not is to simply cut into a piece of it.  So that's what I did.  Not quite cooked enough, I said, but if you overcook it, it's going to be tough and not very appetizing.  So while he was stirring the gravy, I also had him looking at the meat.

Meat done, gravy done, off the burners. We got the rice off - it was just at the point that it was going to be overcooked - I am slowly getting the hang of cooking whole rice, I was never a big fan of it, instant rice turns out perfect every time, lol, but my son was into the idea of how cheap the bag of regular rice was.  79 cents. Instant rice is definitely not that cheap.  But it was still good.

He got the plate filled with beef and rice and poured the gravy over it?  And ate the entire plate. He proclaimed how good it was and yes, it was rather tasty.  I had never even bought this pre-cut beef before, much less attempted to make a quick dish out of it, so I was rather pleased at how well it turned out.  Of cousre, gravy can cover a multitude of sins, yet, the beef was cooked to perfection - it was not over-cooked and still red on the inside of each, small cut, the way we wanted it.  You want brown beef all the way through?  I only want that on a hamburger and even a slightly red hamburger doesn't bother me at all.  In fact, I used to eat raw hamburger meat. That was long ago before all the scare about stuff you can get out of eating it like that.  I never got sick off of it.  I loved the taste of it.  I know, gross to most people, I just loved it and can still eat it raw, but with the sickness risk factor, I don't do it anymore.

Mission accomplished.  End result - good.  My intervention - minimal.

Another thing they were saying about helicopter parenting was the amount of offspring still living at home. But they were including 18 year old kids and up.  Uhhh, really?  Many kids don't get out of high school until after they turn 18.  You can thrust them into college after that, I suppose, but that's not the only path to go and in this day and age, there are a lot of people walking around with freshly-acquired bachelor's and other degrees that cannot find a job in the field of study that they accomplished in college and are as low as minimum wage workers because that's the only jobs around.  Further, because of that, they are living at home with parents because the cannot afford to live on their own.  I didn't necessarily agree with those findings.  I don't think a 30 year old should still be living at home, prolly not, but a teenaged adult a different story.  My son is almost 20 and he is finding his own way and soon will be out of the house.  I am not forcing him out, I have only been standing behind the idea that he needs to find his own way, preferably through the Lord - and that is exactly what he is doing.  I am very proud of his course of action for life - following after the Lord - and I could care less what some worldly study's findings tell me that should be his reality.  Perhaps those people that came up with this study haven't been out looking for a job lately..............

I do tend to read a lot of stuff on the internet.  I do not tend to give all of it credence but I do like to read numerous different articles about the same subject, just to see if there is a consensus.  Even then, I still may not agree with it.  Just because several people have the same viewpoint does not, in my view, necessarily make them right.

Whatever the case, my 3 day weekend is now almost over.  Another 5 day work-week en-queue.  Not necessarily looking forward to it.  I need some extended time off and I think I am going to ask for it coming next month or if I think I can last that long, June at the latest (great month to take some time off considering the miserable heat that June provides us).  Actually I will have to take a day off next month as well because I will be at the edge of my maximum accrual hours for vacation once again,.  I have 3 and a half weeks of paid vacation leave available to me at this point.  I wanted to let it accrue until it was full for a variety of reasons, not the least of which to be able to take at least a week off during the 3 hottest summer months, but probably more like 2 weeks  off - maybe one in June and another in August.  That's 80 hours of vacation time taken while still leaves 60 plus the accruals during that period, adding up to 90 total left over.  This is what happened after I entered my 7th year of service at my company - I went from accruing 6 plus hours per month towards vacation to over 10 hours per month.  It's quite a large difference in the long run.

Enough. Time to wind down and get ready for bed.


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