Peanut and I have been spending a lot of time together these past few days. He contracted scarlet fever and his doctor prescribed two weeks at home. While that eventually got shortened to 10 days, it still seems like a lot to me. I'm curious if he would get this much time from a Canadian pediatrician. I suppose it's great for his classmates, to make sure he's totally, fully recovered, though his worst symptoms went away not long after he started on antibiotics.
I have been the elected caretaker for most of it, being fortunate enough to have a combination of family leave and vacation days I could take from my office job. And while the close quarters for hours on end have tried my patience at times, most of all I'm grateful for this unexpected bonding time. I feel bad for Andrea and his mom, because it has made Peanut even more attached to me than usual. I'm frankly surprised he doesn't get sick of me considering how terrible I am at pretending to be a fire-fighter or a super hero.
But when I grudgingly run around as Fire Star or Ice Man to his Spider-Man, shooting fire/ice at the bad guys, Peanut is giddy with joy. Playing his favourite game with his favourite person? What could possibly be better? Knowing how happy it makes him seriously challenges my annoyance at having to participate in this kind of play that I really don't enjoy, and that goes against my pacifist leanings. This constant balancing act between your needs and your kid's needs: there's parenting for you. While I have made valiant efforts that have been rewarded with adoring appreciation, I'm literally pretending to be a Super Mom. Because I'm no martyr. The television has babysat more times than I care to admit during this hibernation of ours. At least he only watches it in English, so it's minimally "educational" in that sense.
Interestingly, food has proven to be a source of pure delight. Peanut likes to "help" me in the kitchen, and we've now baked both banana and zucchini muffins together. The recipe for the second, adapted from my dear friend Jodi's gorgeous blog More Sweets Please, has been a bit of a revelation. Although Peanut certainly has a sweet tooth, he's never been into cakes. Yet miraculously he likes these zucchini muffins! It could be the chocolate chips I added instead of the walnuts (my other tweak was 2 cups of sugar rather than 1 1/4 cups sugar + 1 cup of light brown sugar, since I was out of brown sugar, and I'm pretty sure "light" brown sugar doesn't exist in Italy). But he's refused cakes with chocolate before. Even more amazingly, I've discovered a new way to sneak the veggies in, which is huge since peas are the only vegetable he'll otherwise eat.
Speaking of vegetable subterfuge, I've also totally gotten my Italian mamma groove on and discovered how easy it is to make vegetable broth in which to cook his pasta and rice. I suppose I knew this because I did make baby food for Peanut but baby brain must have wiped it from my memory. I asked Peanut's nonna to remind me. If you have a pressure cooker, it's ready in 6 minutes! Incredible.
Nonna Marina's Pressure Cooker Vegetable Broth
Ingredients 1.5 liters of cold water 1 small onion 2 carrots, peeled 1 quarter celery root, peeled, or 2 celery stalks 1 medium potato, peeled, or half a red pepper, seeded salt to taste
Directions Quarter the onion and the potatoes. Cut the other veggies into similarly large chunks. Put everything in the pressure cooker except the salt. Set it over a burner on high. Once the pressure cooker whistles, cook over low heat for six minutes. Add salt. Voilà!
If you don't have a pressure cooker, just bring everything to a boil in a regular pot then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Various vegetables can be used, as long as onion, carrot and celery form your base (odori as Italians refer to it).
Sick Peanut has been especially into the soft, delicate pastine -- the eensy weensy pasta that's also great in soup. This is nonna Marina's specialty, and like her I cook it in the broth, reserving the strained liquid and adding a couple tablespoons back in so the pastine are ever-so-slightly soupy.
Anyone else with great veggie-hiding tips? And what part of parenting are you bad at?