I watched my son’s eyes fill with tears today as another toddler pushed him away from the open door of a play house. He’s rarely so tender and fragile but today was just that day. I contemplated for the first time that the child who owns my heart will have a future that includes loss and sorrow.
I wasn’t bullied at school. For a while I thought I was because there were girls who sometimes hurt my feelings. But I was someone whose feelings were always easily hurt and I gave back my fair share of wounds. It took me some time in adulthood to allow those girls to be the children they were, and for me to be the child I was. I find my life is happier for the forgiveness of both.
But there were girls who were bullied. Not many – we were generally a kind, well brought up group; heavily stamped upon by conformation and fear of authority – but enough for the stain to show. I knew those girls, was friends with some of them, self-appointed protector for a while, for all the good it did anyone. I watched self-esteem fracturing in their eyes, the wearing down of spirit that the petty cruelties of school-life heaped on them.
The thought that my child could be bullied one day, might already be headed that way, brought a punch of anxiety. I immediately started wondering which magical parenting formula I could discover or concoct to spare my boy that anguish. I know that, to be a good parent, I have to allow him to tumble at times, but at each point I find myself thinking, “Not here. Not now. Not him.”
I shook the fear off pretty quickly. He’s 20 months old and about as happy and social as a child can be at his age. But was left with a soft ache all day for the pain I’m not going to be able to spare him, and for the pain I do spare him that causes more harm than good.
Clearly a day to be as mindful of the reality of the present as possible. No good planning his adult therapy sessions before he’s attended kindergarten.
So, a recipe reminder that both life and food work better with a gorgeous balance of textures and tastes.
- 800g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and chopped into bite size pieces
- 25g unsalted butter
- 1 tsp olive oil for cooking
- 300g baby spinach, rinsed
- 50g pumpkin seeds
- 2 avocados, flesh scooped out and roughly chopped
- 6 tbl sp soft goat cheese
- Juice and zest from 1 lime
- 2 tbl sp avocado oil or good quality virgin olive oil
- Salt & pepper, for seasoning
Melt the butter and olive oil in a frying pan and cook the pumpkin, covered, over a medium low heat for 10 minutes.
Turn the pumpkin and cook for another 10 minutes, until golden and tender when prodded with a fork.
Place on a paper towel to soak the excess oil and leave to cool slightly.
Make a dressing by mixing the juice and zest from the lime with the avocado oil, salt and pepper.
Place all ingredients in a salad bowl and gently mix them together.
Serve immediately and find untold joy in the moment.