Parenting with a Pastor: Messages from the Pavlova
This past Saturday I tried making a Pavlova. My amazing sister made one, an amazing friend made one, and I’ve been wanting to make one. I don’t know how many of you have tried this, but the meringue making process is a little anxiety ridden. How do you know the sugar is completely dissolved? When does it go from perfectly beaten to over beaten? How do you know when it’s done, before it gets overly done?
The nice thing about making one, is that there are about 4 hours of just waiting. So, I put the pavlova in and then took a moment to make sure my kids were still alive and away from all fire making implements. Everything was relatively quiet, until I looked down and saw my son using my chromebook to trace pictures. It folds both ways, so that was okay, but I was not thrilled about him writing on my screen with a pencil. Unfortunately, I was thinking about the world in the way I see it and I forgot for a bit how he sees it. My son has Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder (I object to the word disorder, but that’s a whole separate blog and a long discussion all its own). In our house, we have to be a little more careful in some of the assumptions we make about the way we’re all experiencing what is happening. What is obvious to some is somewhat less obvious to others, and vice versa. I saw the potential damage to my laptop. How Isaac had been seeing it for awhile was more about how tracing makes his drawings perfect in a way that his eleven year old self could not replicate. From his early days Isaac has needed the way he imagines things to be perfectly represented on paper. It’s hard on him. It makes anything he does look like trash in his eyes. It is frustrating for all who know and love him, because he is incredibly talented in his drawing and highly intelligent in so many ways. It is, however, one of those ways that his brain works. He doesn’t need to completely change the workings of his brain, he just needs help finding paths through that get him to a place he can live with.
Here is where two seemingly unconnected events do that whole kismet, connect-y thing. In the midst of hours long discussion between Isaac, Isaac’s Bonus Dad, and I, my pavlova fell. It fell because it was my first pavlova and I either over or under whipped, or didn’t incorporate the sugar enough, or didn’t bake it long enough, or somehow all of the above. Neurons fired; I threatened to throw the whole thing in the trash. I said I’d obviously botched it all. It wasn’t worth anything and I was a complete pavlova disaster. I was never making pavlova again (I might have completely destroyed my pavlova a second time by over-
egging my performance). Isaac is not just a perfectionist, he’s incredibly empathetic. He always wants us to feel better about ourselves and the world in general. He was quick to reassure me, to tell me I’d better not throw it away because he couldn’t wait to eat it, and to remind me it was the first time I’d made a pavlova and could only get better with practice. There was a lot of pointed staring that happened at this point. I think we all learned a bit of a lesson.
Isaac learned that even mistakes can be delicious, or pieces of art, or both. I learned to guard my laptop more carefully and to take a beat when Ike and I are seeing the world differently.
That evening we had a pizza picnic party (something Kelsea invented and which might be blogged upon later) and we enjoyed the failed, but delicious, pavlova and watched the awesomeness that is Jingle Jangle.* Jingle Jangle and it’s incredible music led to a family dance party. It ended up being a pretty good day.
Here’s the moral of the story, because apparently I’m going for an Aesop vibe with this blog: Take the positive when you have the wherewithal to find it. Survive and find the positive later on the days when the wherewithal is wherewith-notachance buster. Enjoy the disasters, take time to try and communicate with people who see the world differently, and always eat the pavlova. If it it tastes good, it’s worth eating. It’s like pizza, even if it’s bad, it’s still good. Also, finally and perhaps most importantly, watch Jingle Jangle. It’s amazing and should be appropriately adored forever as an amazing Christmas movie.