This post is called "Separation Snapper" because Lucy was doing this awesome job going to school, barely looking back to notice us, lots of new friends, every one has been invited to our house to play. It's been ecstasy for all of us. I saw blue skies ahead. Life was freakin' great...
And then...BLAMO!....David goes on business trip and we interrupt her school routine, where David takes her to school on the bike, and Lucy just freaks out.
Next thing I know she's standing at the street corner screaming and crying refusing to take one step closer to school, while I am deprived of caffeine, toting a half asleep Edie, who is pissed I've gotten her up early three days in a row and would rather be in bed undisturbed by the whole early morning school routine. And then, Lucy spends most of her school day mournfully drawing monotone pictures of her and her dad with smiley faces and dolphins and wild flowers, and the other kid's parents pat me on the back, shaking their heads, and say things like, "Having a hard time at drop-off, huh?"
Um, yeah, brainiacs. Thanks for the keen observation.
And the afternoons also blew while David was away because that was the week Edie started a small preschool alternative program two afternoons a week and she has been adamant that separation is not, nor ever will be, in the cards. (Thank you extended breastfeeding) She pretty much spent her first two days of school clutching my knees and refusing to take anything that was handed to her unless I touched it first and gave it to her. Once, she tried to take off her underpants. And she laid across the table while some kid tried to put together a puzzle. She whispered "home" in my ear about 30 times. It was painful. For everyone.
Then, David came back.
Angels sang. Harps played in unison. Church bells rang. And all of a sudden Lucy liked school again. She loved all her friends. She skipped down the sidewalk on the way to school. She started picking out cute little dresses to wear and black Mary Janes. She hummed while she got dressed in the morning. She let me run a brush through her hair. I put a damn barrette in her hair. It was like cooperation central.
And Edie, in what can only be described as the single biggest turn around in the history of the world, decided to take her teacher's hand and go to the roof top playground at her school to play with the kids. Alone. Without clutching my legs like a koala baby hooked to its mommy in the Outback. She didn't look back. The gymnastics teacher said she was a ball to have in class. It was like David's return made everyone feel safe and secure. All was right with the world again.
David is never allowed to travel without us again.
And basically what I figured out is, it's me. I'm the freak that disables my children and makes them go in reverse. (I told my friend Tamara this and she said, "Yes Kim, its you.) I bring out their need to come home, to have home-made soup in bean bag chairs while reading Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and then, spending the next four hours with meat on our hands making meatballs together in the kitchen. I bring them home. Pull them in close. I also make very good accents when I read books. My Strega Nona/old-Italian-woman-accent is legendary.
David pushes them out, empowers them with big responsibilities, gives them adventure, makes them try new and different things and gets them on planes to countries all over the world. He applauds them when they face the fear and persevere anyway. I say dumb things like, "Oh honey, if you're scared to ride that horse, it's okay, you don't have to."
But David, he inspires them to do it, to face things head on and with a gentle, loving nudge, they are on the horse, a little scared at first, but also a little excited, and the next thing you know they are laughing, smiling, full of themselves, trotting down the trail, out of reach, wanting to do it again, only this time by themselves. And there I am, stuck at the paddock, biting my knuckles, imagining the horse running off with a small child bound up in the reins, terrified, in peril, alone, out of my reach (my mind goes there. alot) and craning my neck to find out when they hell they are coming back.
So, my children would never leave the house if it weren't for my husband and I'm grateful to him. He's back now and everyone loves school. No more morning tears. Or whining. I don't have to drag anyone down the street to school. We're all together and everything is all good.
And today's our anniversary. So, even better.
So, Separation Snapper...Lucy picked this out for supper after one our harder days without David. She wanted "pink fish with eyes", which is a whole red snapper. Fish with it's head on always makes Lucy happy. Running around Whole Foods gathering up the ingredients for this dish took her mind off her rough day and allowed the three of us girls to reconnect. This is what we threw together when we got home.
When you order the fish from the market or fish monger, get them to clean and scale it. If your family would prefer the "no eyes" variety of fish, you can use fillets just as easily, (and bake them for about 25 minutes) although the whole fish makes a more dramatic presentation. You can also have the fish guy separate the head from the body, so you can cook it and present it with the fish and then whisk it away if someone freaks out about it (Ewww the fish has eyes!) or let them play with it. We always end up playing with the fish head. No shame in that.
Separation Snapper (Whole Baked Red Snapper with Herbs)
1 2-to 2 1/4-pound whole red snapper, cleaned
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or a few generous squirts from a lemon
5 or 6 sprigs of lemon thyme
10 chives (uncut)
Parsley minced and used at the end for presentation
1/4 stick butter, cut into pieces
2 lemons, cut int wedges (save a few for presentation)
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a good size baking pan. Butter the pan a bit to keep the fish from sticking. Wash fish, pat dry with paper towel and place it in center of a pan.
Season cavity of fish with garlic, salt and pepper, and lemon juice. Dot cavity with butter. Arrange some lemon wedges, lemon thyme sprigs and chives inside cavity. (You really can use whatever herb combination you like - I won't yell at you) Season outside of fish with with salt and pepper. Squeeze lemon over outside of fish. Salt and pepper the outside. Top with a couple lemon slices, if you like.
At this point, you can store the fish in the fridge for up to a day. If you can prep the fish ahead, dinner is just putting a pan in the oven. Simple.
Bake fish in oven until cooked through, about 35-40 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. Transfer fish to platter. Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and a generous little pile of lemon wedges.