Friday, February 4, 2011


: the act or process of refusing to have, take, recognize

I met with B's teacher, Ms. R, yesterday to get the scoop from her on B's academic progress and to hear her thoughts on things I should emphasize during fifth grade.  Academically, B is doing well.  Ms. R's main feedback was that B doesn't respond well to suggestions to revise, change or expand her writing.  She noted that B has been getting better about trying to listen and make changes, but it's still quite hard for her.  I appreciated the feedback and as I listened, it occurred to me that there was some significance that it was writing where she experiences this most.  B is so creative that I think she feels like her creations are hers.  She has a vision for them and doesn't want that vision tampered with, even if it might improve the end product.  The up side of this is that B tends to be marvelously content with what she makes.  The down side? We all need to realize we can improve, don't we?

I definitely want B to be able to accept constructive criticism and improve her work over time, but I also want to be sensitive to the creator/creation link.  I told her teacher that I might try giving B suggestions for things to add rather than things to change when she gives me a draft.  This might feel less like being asked to change her clothes and a little more like adding the right pair of boots to the outfit.  She seemed to like that idea and said she might try it with B this year.  I have no idea whether it will work, but it's a start.

I mentioned my conversation with Ms. R to B last night at bedtime.  (This daughter of mine is SO fond of the bedtime chat.)  She admitted that feedback is hard for her, that it makes her feel like whatever she has written isn't good enough.  We talked about why that wasn't true and I confessed to her that I can really understand her feelings.  The more intimately connected I feel to something I've created, the harder it is to receive feedback, however constructive.

I've seen this in myself most recently in the kitchen.  I enjoy cooking.  Am I an artist?  No, just a craftsman, but I do put a bit of myself into the foods I make.  This time of year, I long to use my culinary creativity to craft aromatic, satisfying, soothing soups.  I love the process and smells of soup making.  The chopping.  The sauteeing.  The waiting.  Especially the waiting.  There's something beautiful about putting together disparate ingredients that find a way to work together for one purpose.  I love waiting for the flavors of the soup to meld as they simmer slowly on the stove.  I love the resultant bowl of steamy nourishment, especially with a good bread on the side. 

But while I love making soups, there is one member of my family who doesn't like soup.  I try to keep this in mind and keep the soup making to a minimum.  Or make soup when it's dinner for four instead of five.  But there are times when soup is simply called for - freezing cold days, an achy mom, coughing aplenty.  So I make the soup and know there will be consequences - at least one disappointed face at the dinner table.  It's hard to not feel a bit of rejection, even though I know I'm not being rejected, my soup is.

I'm not sure how to resolve this for myself.  Since I am primarily responsible for cooking for our entire family, I have some responsibility to prepare foods that our whole family will enjoy.  But I guess I feel like shouldering this responsibility should also give me a bigger vote as to what ends up on the dinner plate.  I find it nearly impossible to prepare a meal I won't eat.  One of J's favorite meals is pot roast.  I made it clear when we married that he would need to learn to cook it if he wanted it.  I've always hated pot roast because of the carrots in it.  The potatoes taste like carrots, the meat taste like carrots.  It's awful.  J did learn to make pot roast.  And, bless him, he makes it without carrots.

I also try to adapt to preferences - no crunchy carrots for J, no grits or polenta for B, tiny portions of meat for K, etc.  But the core ingredients and preparation methods are my own and so are the meals that end up on our table. So how do I blend my desire to create in the kitchen, my resultant feelings of ownership and my family member's tastes?

Is this hard for your family?  Are there dishes you love to make and then have to eat alone?  Do you cater to your husband's, daughter's, son's tastes?  How do you avoid rejection in the kitchen?


Anonymous said...

I'm sure you've heard me say more than once that I hate the whole process of dinner. I don't like the planning, shopping or preparing. I think the whole rejection thing might play a big part in that. My husband has very specific likes and dislikes. Plus, I have two toddler (Ford is still a toddler, right) boys who don't like the same things. Ford decided this week that he doesn't like mac n cheese. COME ON. That was my go to kid food.

The whole thing is frustrating to me. And, if you throw in trying to make meals more wholesome (whole wheat pasta vs. regular pasta), it's even more frustrating.

My solution is baking. I LOVE to bake and I don't think I ever get complaints about the things I bake other than Ford wants to have more. It is the thing that keeps me in the kitchen b/c I want to be there. And, makes the times I have to be in there cooking more bearable, I suppose. Natalie Mc

aimee said...

What a theme at our house at the moment. Because I don't have the artist at work in my cooking, I don't feel a rejection of the specific thing I've created, but it's the precious time spent making the homemade, tasty meal. One food blog I follow suggests having atleast one thing on the table that your child likes, but does that wise foodie have 4 children with 4 different tastes. I have it easy with my husband and oldest. But currently Joshua doesn't like any beans, chicken, and most vegetables. He'll eat salads, which I can't complain about, but salads are not filling out the shooting beanstalk that is my almost 6 year old!
Finally, I love soups. I could live on soups 5 out of 7 nights, with a meat dish thrown in between.