Yesterday around dinner time, I asked Liam if he wanted chicken in a tortilla or just plain chicken with rice (I know, what a dazzling array of options. Don’t tell Ina Garten; she’d just feel threatened).
Liam, sprawled on his bed in his fuzzy bathrobe, surfaced out of the book he’s reading (The Name of the Wind, which is apparently the Best Book Ever in the History of Words).
“You know, mommy,” he said, bleary eyed from reading, “lots of families get take-out, like, all the time. But you…You just…take a little of this and a little of that and then the next thing you know you’ve made chicken tacos like from Dos Toros. I mean, I never could’ve imagined, Dos Toros tacos, here, in Abu Dhabi. You’re amazing.”
Dos Toros, for those of you not lucky enough to live in Manhattan, is a stupendously good taqueria that used to be around the corner from our apartment. They do real cooking. Me? I put chicken in a pan with some magic dust (Blue Smoke’s magic dust), slap the chicken bits into a corn tortilla with some Mexican rice from the marvelous Maria. No cheese, no sauce, no guac, no tomato, no beans. Dry as hell but the kid thinks it’s some kind of haute gourment special, so who I am to disabuse him?
Perhaps fueled by his love for chicken tacos, the twelve-year old flung his arms around me. “You’re just so great and nice and helpful, and you find me great books–or your students suggest great books–and you help me with thinking and ideas and everything and I just love you! You’re such a helper! You’re so good at so much and help me with everything.”
I am basking. My pre-teen son, gushing about how much he loves me? Oh be still my beating heart.
There is a long pause. Liam keeps his arms around me, then looks up.
“I mean, except in math. You can’t really do anything in math that’s useful to me. I mean, in math you just really have to, you know, how to do it. And you just, I mean, you just don’t. When will dinner be ready?” He picks up his book and dives back into the story.
From the heights of glory, I am cast down to the valleys.
I shuffle into the kitchen to make the tacos, wondering who will help me count out how many tortillas I need.