Monday, 19 May 2014

choosing from the dessert cabinet of life

On the weekend, we had an early celebration for Tom’s birthday.  Lately, there’s been a slight easing of finances.  We budgeted, then, on taking the birthday boy to choose his very own bike.  This was to be followed by both morning tea and lunch in a cafe and a trip to the local car museum.  

In short, a once in a lifetime treat kind of day.

In the cafe, the choices were amazing.  There was a section with delicious looking pastries: doughnuts, turnovers, Danish treats.  Over the other side, however, was the dessert cabinet, which really upped the ante.  It caught Tom and Sophie’s eye.

I instantly remembered being their age and looking wistfully at the dessert cabinet, only to be turned back and given my choices - usually an iced or cinnamon doughnut.  Don’t get me wrong: between the cinnamon and the flavours of icing (not to mention with sprinkles or without), there was usually a great variety from which to choose.

This didn’t matter, however, as I wanted something from the dessert cabinet.

I could feel the kids’ excitement and I didn’t want to dampen their day.  The only limitation I placed was on Tom with the Black Forrest Cake - I absolutely knew he wouldn’t like the chocolatey-cherry flavour, no matter how sophisticated his taste buds have become (a Primary School boy who likes raw mushrooms is pretty impressive in my book!).  He ended up with a chocolate iced doughnut with fancy white stripes on top - a doughnut nevertheless, but it was his choice.

Sophie, however, became hooked on the chocolate mouse - it was something she just had to have.  I thought ‘mouse’ was so delightful, I couldn’t bear to correct her.  I also thought maybe she wouldn’t like it, but I wanted her to be able to make her own choice. 

I wanted her to know that sometimes we can choose from the dessert cabinet instead of the pastry section.

I wanted her to know that sometimes stuff from the dessert cabinet tastes good and sometimes it’s no better than our every day choices.

It wouldn’t be something she could have all the time, but on a day where all the usual restraints went out the window, it was her decision to make.

Even after the first mouthful, I could tell she wasn’t really keen, but I didn’t want to offer a substitute.  To sit there and eat a chocolate mousse that had looked absolutely amazing, but tasted perhaps slightly ordinary, was something I wanted her to be able to do.  I wanted her to quietly know her own choice and to be given the space to do so.

Soph ate, mouthful by mouthful, and ended up disappointed by her dessert.  To my eyes - as I didn’t interrupt her for a taste - it looked like a dry mousse, not the lightly aerated version of my own dreams.  

The small pieces of dried fruit were a further disappointment, but all part of the discovery.

I wasn’t prepared to offer a swap - my dessert for hers, or taste hers to see what it was like and how I could describe, perhaps, the other, nicer chocolate mousse that we could make at home one day.  

I just wanted her to have this experience.

I wanted Sophie - in fact, all three of my children - to know that these choices may look better than those we are usually given, but sometimes they disappoint.  By the same token, I very much want them to know these things can be just as delicious and wonderful as promised - like everything, there is good and bad no matter what the choice.

To Sophie’s credit, she didn’t ask for anything else.  She was actually very good about it all and she handled the situation with a lot of maturity. 

I don’t want her to think the dessert cabinet of life is not for her, to go through life feeling as though she’s missing out.  It’s a message I’d like her to understand on so many levels, something I’ve taken until now to consciously realise.  If Sophie can understand that at the age of seven, I think she will be ahead of the game.

What about you, my friends?

How do you approach the dessert cabinet of life?