So, Lucy told me yesterday she thinks I like Edie more than her.
These were her exact words. She had her sad face on when she said it. She has a sad face. It doesn't come out very often but when it does, it's powerful, mind-warping stuff.
Then she said that she knew this was "for real" because I get mad at Edie more and so this means, in some world where the uncontrolled expression of anger equals love, I like her sister more.
So, I learned three things from this discussion: (1) one or both of my kids think I love one of them more than the other, (2) I yell a lot at one particular child, (3) And somehow this is a good thing. A ringing endorsement of my adoration.
Of course, this just boosts my current belief that I am like the most painfully confused parent on the planet.
Now, it is important to bear in mind that David is quite sure I am being played and that Lucy knows exactly how to manipulate me and drive me bananas and she is using her God-given right as a daughter to drive her mother completely insane. Or get extra attention. Or make me give her cash. Or whatever is going on in that cunning brain of hers.
He reminded me - with his calm, motivational-speaker voice - that when kids this age express what they're feelings, they often don't get the details right. Good point. Then, he muttered something about mothers and daughters and crazy people and then, something about headless chickens. The rest of the time he was telling me what a sucker I was.
Pep talk over. I still felt like shit.
Truth is, after the "week of going to school without David" last week, I noticed how much easier it was for me to separate from Edie. Because of the extended breast feeding and the weaning, which was rough on both of us, Edie and I have this long history of intimacy, a clear understanding of our place in each others life, a close unbreakable bond that is expressed over and over throughout the day and the success of having weaned and gotten through this tough "giving up the boob thing together."
I feel quite sure that Edie knows how much I love her and what her place is in my heart. I can urge her to get into the class room a little harder, a little more assuredly - I can be tougher on her - because I know that she is sure I won't abandon her.
But when Lucy was having a tough time making the transition to school without David, I wanted to pull her in and tell her she didn't have to go to school. I wanted to save her from her sadness and tears and show her that I would save her. That she was that important to me, so important that I would break the rules for her.
I wanted to do this because I have abandoned her. We have that history. Edie was born when Lucy was 17 months old. Lucy went from being my one and only, to being the one who's demands were not as urgent as the new baby's. And it was David who jumped in and healed that wound. He showered her with extra attention. Slept next to her at night, doted over her, made her feel special. This cemented their bond. She knows no rejection from him. She never had to wait for him to finish up with the baby. Or stood by as he took the baby's needs ahead of her own. She is sure of him.
And, of course, I'm still trying to make up for this with Lucy every day. Even though she has no memory of any it. Even though she doesn't demand any sort of repayment or penance. Even though she probably doesn't care anymore what happened when she was a baby.
Because, well, I like to create problems that didn't exist before, and never actually solve them, but just worry about them incessantly and carry them everywhere on my back, like a big sack of rocks, and torture myself for the hell of it.
And I explained all this to David in the car last night on the way back from the country, while the kids slept. And he told me all my heartfelt concerns were, well, hooey. That I was projecting my fears onto the children. That this was about me, not them. He was using his motivational speaker voice again. And then, he said a lot of nice things about how we love our children - both of them - everyday and ways in which Lucy gets more than Edie. And it was good to remember that.
And then he told me that he was really happy he didn't have to live in my head and that it must really suck being me and having to deal with all these crazy thoughts all the time. Then he quoted his shrink. And suggested I go back into therapy.
Then, he thought we should have sex. Because apparently sex will make me feel less guilty about having stunted my childrens sense of well-being. And of course, I have no idea when I'm being played by a member of my own family, so I thought that sounded like a great idea.
The first time, I made this dish, I got the idea from Vegan Yum Yum (a really fantastic vegan food blog) and did a version of the recipe as a vegan dish. But, um, yeah, it needs chicken. Just sayin'. So, here is the omnivore's version. If you are vegan, just take out all whispers of the bird.
I named the dish "Sucka!", well, because you know why.
I love using udon noodles instead of Italian pasta for many dishes. I find the noodles are satiny and slippery and delicate. Kids love slurping them up. Also, the butter beans, which are a gentle, sweet little bean, do not feel at all like large bugs in your mouth the way lima beans do and they provide extra texture to the dish which makes it special for a quick week night meal.
You heard me...lima beans feel like cockroaches in your mouth. Again, I'm just sayin'. See? You don't want to be inside my head.
Sucka! Udon Noodles with Broccolini, Chicken, Cherry Tomatoes and Butter Beans
Makes enough for 4 people
2 bundles Udon Noodles
Oil, about 2-3 Tbs
A knob of butter
Chicken, two breasts, skin on
6-8 Stalks of Broccolini, depending on size
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and pepper
12-15 Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
1 15 oz. can of Butter Beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp of whatever Italian herbs you have on hand, rosemary, thyme, oregano
Balsamic Vinegar, for drizzling
A 1/2 cup of chicken stock or pasta water
Wash chicken. Heat a cast iron fry pan on high heat. Add a squirt or two of oil. Put chicken pieces, fat side down, in pan. Leave it until it has a nice sear, 3-4 minutes. Flip and sear the other side. Take out of the pan and on a cutting board, start cutting pieces off the bone or if it's boneless, start cutting up chunks. The chicken will not be fully cooked at this point and that's great because it will cook perfectly when we add it to the pasta mixture later. When you have a good pile of chicken slivers, put them aside.
Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add udon noodles and cook for four minutes (or per package directions). Rinse noodles in cold water but save the pasta water. After rinsing, set noodles aside in a bowl and add a little pasta water back in to prevent noodles from sticking.
In the pan with all the nice, hot chicken juices, add a bit more oil and a good size knob of butter and scrape up those lovely bits on the bottom of the pan. They'll add flavor. Keep the heat at medium. Add broccolini and coat with oil. Season with a pinch of salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. When the broccolini starts to turn bright green (just a minute or two), push them to the edge of the pan.
Add the quartered cherry tomatoes. Stir and coat in the spices and oil until they soften up, 1-2 minutes. Once tomatoes are softened, add butter beans. Stir everything together and let them get nice and warmed through. Take the veg out of the pan and set aside in a bowl.
In the still-hot pan, add a 1-2 Tbs more oil, if needed. Add the chicken pieces and let them cook through until they are no longer pink. Add cooked udon noodles to the hot pan, seasoning with salt and Italian herbs. Toss to coat the pasta. Once the pasta is coated and is heated through, add back the broccolini, beans, and tomatoes. Taste and season with more salt or pepper if needed. Throw some chopped parsley on top for bright color.
Plate and drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar if desired.