Pretend Soup

It was a typical question for the time of day- “What are we having for dinner?” asked Goldi.

“Chicken and potatoes.” I answer.

” I would like to make my Pretend Soup. ” she announced.

Before an “OK” is on my tongue, Goldi has pots and spoons at her fingertips in minutes. Impressive, considering the HUGE change we have undergone in moving to a new house. I still wonder about a pot’s whereabouts before opening a cupboard.

Goldi pours water into a medium sized pot and asks for the stove to be turned on. I turn it on LOW  and make dinner along side her.  She tops the pot with its lid and says “It needs to cook for about 20 minutes. It is going to be delicious.”

” …no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing ” – Julia Child 

Goldi is now exploring the ways of play. This is her rehearsals for what may take place during that grown up later time. She shows she just could be a real Julia Child in the making.

She leaves the Pretend Soup to work it’s magic and wanders into her room.

Suddenly she appears to check the pot,

“It’s getting hot. That’s good because it tastes best that way. ”  she says.

Her dad arrives home from work and takes a sniff.

‘Smells good.” he says.

“It’s my Pretend Soup, Dad. I cooked it myself.” she says with spoon in hand.

“Pretend Soup?” he says with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes,” says Goldi with her “what’s so strange about that?’ voice.

I wink at my husband. He smiles.

“Well, when’s that soup gonna be ready”I am as hungry as a bear!”

Goldi giggles. The soup bubbles and lets off a healthy steam. This brings a smile of deep satisfaction to her . She gathers up four small plastic bowls,  lines them up in a row, and gently she ladles a portion each bowl.

It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate – you know someone’s fingers have been all over it.”  Julia Child

How exciting it is to see this unique individual at play.  Pretend Soup by Chef Goldi Child. Her very own recipe- made with her own hands.

“I’m not having any, it’s only a bowl of hot water anyway. ”  says our voice of reality. AKA her younger brother.

Our old soul son tests the purpose of this pretending session with his matter of fact statements.

I sigh and think through my laundry list of laments: If only she’d done this when she was three or four . Then maybe she and people her age would be equally matched at play. Then maybe she’d be more practical , more realistic, …maybe she’d even be cooking up a batch of Chicken Noodle – or maybe even French Onion by now. 

“Just say No thank you, ” ‘ I instruct our son firmly.

Why can’t kids just be kids and not push for grown up status before it’s time? Why does it seem at times that  Goldi  is the only child  at play among all the children these days? Why can’t kids  hold tight to their childhood for all it’s worth? 

Yet, we are thrilled . Play was once strange and mysterious. All toys stood lifeless. No singing the dolly to sleep. No beauty parlor with her barbies. Only stillness and nothingness and blank stares. She squinted to see anything imaginary and couldn’t muster up the magic to put forth any pretending.  Now, it’s her  pleasure that comes as natural to her as breathing.  Progress! Glorious and amazing and wonderful progress!

My husband gives a big slurp at the table with a spoonful of Pretend Soup and Goldi giggles.

“What’s your secret ingredient?” I ask.

“Well it has a lot of things that are really good for you like- vegetables.  Would you like some more?” she asks.

“Yes, please!” her dad and I both say in unison.

Goldi dishes out one more bowl for each of us and is delighted to present us with another helping.  She jumps and flaps at the sight of us rubbing our tummies and giving hearty MMMMMS.

It IS  just hot water!  She should be playing Sorry or coloring beautifully in the lines of some nature scene picture, or sewing,  ( Okay maybe not that – I pretty much failed at that myself at age 8) or decorating a dollhouse …. or reading a chapter book  or taking ballet lessons or spending hours at a 1000 piece puzzle or….?

Goldi might be mocked one day for offering her specialty to someone else beyond the safe and loving walls of her family.  Those thoughts of reality hit and Pretend Soup goes down the wrong pipe. I let out a few coughs.

‘What’s wrong Mom? Did it burn your tongue?” Goldi says in her concerned voice.

So much reality and matter of fact and sensibleness and “supposed to bes”  taint  my ideal picture of Goldi’s childhood.

This child is eight years old. And on the day, of her eight year birthday party, she insisted on making  Pretend Soup. This time Goldi added dish soap  and food coloring and danced her way around the kitchen singing in her operatic voice.

Soon, there was green water all over the counter.

“Sorry, mom, it was an accident. ” Goldi says silently.

“Nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should.” Julia Child 

Eight Year old Goldi is making Pretend Soup. It is as it should be. It is her hold on tight joy during these crucial growing up moments.

“It’s okay Goldi” I say. “We can wipe it up.”

“Don’t worry mom! I can make some more tomorrow. I sure am a good cook you know.” Julia,( I mean Goldi,) says with her head held high.

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” Julia Child

Goldi plopped everything in the sink and plopped herself down on her bed. Our young  Julia Child needed to take a load off. Playing and pretending is hard work. But she knows that it’s worth it. Her childhood is here to stay awhile for Goldi. Maybe even longer than most childhoods. But she will relish in it. I imagine this is the time all her best recipes will be conjured up.

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 18:10

Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. ” Matthew 18: 2-4


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