Sunday, April 24, 2011 • 9:08 AM Comments ()


posted by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

When you are a gourmet-leaning tween with aspirations of chef in your future, two things are clear: one, you dream up complex meals you hope to create and two, cooking for people you care about is one of the biggest pleasures in your life.

So it goes in my house.

Lucien’s wish is to make dinner for his friends for his May birthday (parents will act as servers).

That meant Friday, even though the friends and the elder brother bailed on going ramp collecting, the tween opted to sit in a waiting room at Hampshire College while I had a long meeting (he brought a book) so that afterwards we could go to the woods behind the soccer field and collect ramps. Which is what we did.

We then got Parmesan cheese and ricotta cheese (and other groceries) and headed home.

That evening, he made ramp pesto.

The next morning, he pulled out big orange Kitchen Aid mixer and his shiny holiday-new pasta attachment for the already-in-house-possession mixer and began making pasta sheets to cut into ravioli. Mid-afternoon, I found him putting together the ramp pesto and Parmesan and ricotta filling (our friend, Amy stopped by to visit and she helped grate cheese) and continue to struggle with the pasta making. It was not always the right consistency. It was not always thick enough (and subsequently fell apart in his hands). It was, by then, taking forever.

His older brother was working a benefit concert at the school’s theater. His younger brother was at a friend’s. His pals in the ‘hood stopped by briefly early on and then left. They called hours later to see if he’d like to hang out in a treehouse, but he was too busy wrestling with the pasta dough. He was pretty much alone, save for pasta.


Much earlier in the morning, I’d whipped up a batch of brownies for the dear husband and daughter to bring to the barn visit with Caroline and (briefly, it turned out, Saskia’s grandparents). Saskia helped mix the batter and greased the pan (and sampled the batter). I’d committed to the Great Cloth Diaper Change (as an official witness) and at the time we were making the plans it became clear the other kids wanted to sit this visit out. So, I was on other kid duty of a sort. I’d gotten some photographs of Saskia printed up to bring along as well.

Dear husband reported they’d had a very fine visit. Saskia went from clinging (and fearing the horses) to traipsing around the barn (and liking the horses). There were giggles and fun with Auntie Cece. He and Caroline had some time, just to catch up.

Can adoption exist without pangs of longing and wistfulness—at the least? Personally, I doubt it, although I can’t say never because I understand each family’s experience is unique. There’s so much more to say about that, but that’s all I have from yesterday.

Except this: my little gal came home and clung to me—and her papa—for two hours straight. Eventually, she spent a little private time hanging out in the playroom. She couldn’t fall asleep to save herself (until nearly ten-thirty). She’s holding big, BIG things in her tiny being.


Lucien persevered with the pasta dough until about eight in the evening. Throughout the late afternoon (me with clinging child) and beyond, he got frustrated, almost to the breaking point, but somehow he didn’t spin downward into tantrum or puddle or sarcastic misery. He did second-guess himself quite a number of times. His parents acted as cheerleaders, lent small hands, and suggested he stop numerous times. He stopped when he could go no further. He had some ravioli plus more filling to freeze, as well, in case he decides to brave making still more pasta dough (he says he will). He envisions mushrooms with the dish to round it out.

As I praised him that evening (bruised and sore, he was from slipping on the floor in the morning, exhausted, a bit demoralized), I kept thinking that never having left the house, he still did some dig-deep work yesterday (and not just the cooking): life lesson with pasta attachment.

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