My latest stress has been over Daughter #2 and her true nature - an introvert. In my mind she is this confident, well-spoken, audacious student, but who she really is is quiet, internal, introspective, and introverted. She spent the first three years of preschool only nodding her head yes or no when asked a question. She began coming out of her shell her final year of preschool, thanks to the lovely teachers (J and Y) at her school and in kindergarten I began seeing some hints that perhaps she might come out of her shell.
But she hasn't really. I haven't given up hope and sometimes that hope pushes me to force her into situations that I shouldn't be pushing her. Our most recent situation was the Bible Verse Memorization Festival that we held at our church. It was our first time hosting it and I didn't give it much thought. I assumed Daughters (Son is too young) would just do it and it would be no big deal.
Upon receiving their assigned verses, both Daughters flopped into the minivan and on our way home from church adamantly declared that they were NOT going to do it. Daughter #1 was very vocal and protested vehemently. Daughter #2, I could see in the rear view mirror, was completely withdrawn and in another place. I just quietly reminded the girls that yes, they needed to do this and they could do it with enough practice.
Daughter #2 proceeded to have four meltdowns for unexplained reasons the rest of that evening, and it became clear to me that something was really bothering her. I pulled her aside and asked what was wrong and she declared that she didn't want to perform the Bible verse in front of an audience. I told her I needed time to think about what the right thing to do and would get back to her an answer.
I took a step back and slowly thought about the situation. I thought of what my objective was and what the desired outcome would be. I considered long and hard and came up with two disparate objectives.
#1. Get her to do the required task.
#2. Help her to learn to do the required task.
They seem similar but they really aren't. #1 really focuses on the outcome of the actual performance. #2 focuses on the idea that the process of learning is more important than the actual performance. The tiger mom in me (ROAR) wanted to push #1. "You will memorize this verse; you will get up in front of people, and you will do it." But the teacher in me, which generally doesn't turn on around Children, spoke up. "You know your child. You know she doesn't easily get up in front of people. How is forcing her to do it right off the bat going to teach her anything?"
In the end I went with #2, despite the fact that many around me (including Husband initially) felt that forcing her to do it would teach her to do it in the future. I explained that I saw her doing it in the future, but it just didn't have to be in four weeks. Her road could be a little bit longer to get to the end result.
I explained to Daughter #2 that she did not have to get up on stage and perform her memorization. She did, however, HAVE to memorize it. "The only people who are going to care whether you learn it or not are Mommy and God. You'll have to do it for the two of us. I will however, give the entrance fee to the festival, and SHOULD YOU decide that you want to recite it on that day, you may. If you choose not to do it, it will not be because you didn't memorize it, but instead because you choose not to perform in front of others." Despite giving Daughter #2 an expectation that I knew she could manage (she memorized Psalm 23 in less than two days and recited it for me) her moods were erratic and unpredictable for the four weeks leading up to the festival. There were lots of spontaneous tears, shrieks of anger, a time when I was playing piano for church service only to see a little girl bolt down the aisle and land in my lap as I played, and a variety of unexpected unusual behavior. I didn't know what was bothering her.
Turns out, it was Big Sister. Daughter #1 informed Daughter #2, that no matter what, in two years, she would in fact HAVE to perform the Bible memory verse as a 3rd grader. This two year future event plagued the psyche of Daughter #2 and made her nuts. I suggested to her that we focus on simply just making it through this year before worrying about two years in the future. It didn't help. The only thing that appeased her was the same offer I made for her this current year.
On the day of the festival itself, I still had some hope that Daughter #2 might overcome her fear and get up and try. Her verse was memorized perfectly and I even found her saying timidly to me, "I think I might want to do it." She changed her mind several times over the course of the morning, and I tried not to react too much either way. I clarified that she had fulfilled her end of the bargain and that whatever she chose to do at the festival was up to her.
In the end, she chose not to do it. Truthfully I was a little bit frustrated that she didn't, because other kids made it up there to do it, and you could see the fear in their eyes, but they got up and tried. And I give much kudos and admiration for that. I kept on hoping that she would see others pushing through and she would as well. But I did watch her, silently observing, calculating, and measuring the risks and rewards. I saw her carefully examine each participants' face, and I saw her measuring the looks of pride and joy on the parents' faces as their own child performed. Watching her carefully looking at others gave me reassurance that she in fact did fulfill objective #2, learning to do the required tasks.
I'm hoping that after she observed other participants not being eaten up by alligators, not bursting into spontaneous flames, not turning into pumpkins, and not bawling their eyes out, her own worst fears about performance will begin to be alleviated and she too, can get up and try. Maybe not this next time, but soon.
Daughter #2's favorite thing to eat? Chicken wings. She particularly loves this new creation I came up last week and it appeased her for a long while and kept her occupied preventing a couple of meltdowns. The mix of two types of cooking, roasting and braising, yields a really wonderful texture and flavor. It's not difficult to make (the roasting part is just merely sticking it the oven) and it can be made ahead by roasting the chicken first and just doing the braising portion right before serving. Daughter #1 said, "THIS is my favorite chicken." Daughter #2 showed me it was the best chicken by eating 8. They want it again this week.
Korean Twice Cooked Chicken Wings
2 lbs chicken wings, sectioned off into wings and drummettes (or if you’re lucky only the one part that you like)
¼ cup sake
¼ cup soy sauce
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons sake
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 inch ginger root, peeled and sliced into thin disks
2 or 3 dried whole chili pepper, or in a pinch, any fresh whole chili pepper will work (thai dragon or jalapeno)
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Mix ¼ cup sake and ¼ cup soy sauce in a container where you will marinate the chicken. Add the chicken. Cover and marinate - at least 4 hours, if not overnight.
Preheat oven 400. Drain chicken from marinade. Line roasting pan with foil and lay chicken in a single layer and roast at 400 degrees for 1 hour, until chicken is golden dark brown.
While chicken is roasting, begin preparing braising liquid. To a large pan (big enough to hold 2 lbs of chicken wings) add soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, sake, rice vinegar, garlic cloves, ginger, and chili to a large pan. Bring mixture to a boil AFTER the chicken is removed from the oven. Once braising liquid is boiling, add roasted wings to the mixture, reducing heat to simmer gently, until a thin, shiny glaze forms over the chicken. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.
Serve hot with plenty of napkins.