Sweet Distraction and Detachment

Parents: have you realized that your kid is a separate person from you? I haven’t yet. But I’m working on it. Tips for accomplishing this elusive state-of-being would be accepted and appreciated. I know I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been too busy living the life of a 15 ½ year old – ecstatic when I… I mean she… goes to dinner and the movies with friends or aces the PSAT or gets to the orthodontist on time. In a pit of despair when she doesn’t hand in an assignment, blows off a teacher meeting, or spends a Saturday night alone. One might think that this duel life would make me feel more connected – to her at least – but I just end up feeling isolated. S is fully aware of my predicament, and it’s not appreciated. One day I asked her how she was feeling and she said that it didn’t matter – whatever she was feeling, I was feeling it “50 times more.” Disturbing and comforting at the same time. Whenever I tell my therapist a new story looking for sympathy, empathy, something, “You’ll never believe what she did… blah blah blah blah blah,” His response usually goes like this, “So?” Then I say, “Whaddya mean ‘so?’” And then he says, “What does that have to do with you? You don’t have a Chemistry test or a DH Lawrence paper to write.” Oh.

I try to focus on my own life. Really I do. But it’s hard. Let’s see. What could I focus on instead? Work? That’d probably be smart. But, I tend to usually incorporate that into my life pretty well, and clearly it's not enough. Friends? Friends are okay – as long as we don’t talk about kids. Or… as long as at least one of their kids has a seemingly comparable issue. Does that sound bad? If it does, either you’re lying to yourself or you don’t have kids. Or you’re a saint. Luckily teenagers (and parents) aren't the most stable bunch, so there's always someone to talk to.

What’s that, you say? Oh, yeah, the dating thing again. I did that last summer. It was okay. I don’t tend to like strangers, and it gets expensive. Luckily the cover article of Boston magazine this month is about people who choose to be single. They could be married; they’re just choosing not to be. That’s me. Definitely. 

So, I’ve been cooking. A lot. It’s a distraction. It usually involves an accompanying glass of wine and an audio book. Or I’ll put the laptop in the kitchen and run episode after episode of Parenthood in the background (the arrests, runaways, betrayals, autism-induced tantrums, etc… soothe me). I made a Moroccan buffet dinner for 45 for my work holiday party. I made a gooey wild mushroom lasagna for my family Christmas dinner (celebrated a week before the actual day when I played mah jongg with Tabor and we ate guacamole mixed w a lot of salsa since my avocados had gone bad). I made a juicy pork loin wrapped in pancetta. And I’ve been baking. I never bake. I don’t even like eating desserts, so I don’t see the point of making them. But, we went apple picking and you have to do something with dozens of apples. The cat won’t eat them. So, I got on a roll. I’ve made tarts and cakes and cobblers, and Christmas cookies (okay from a mix and in a rush, but cookies came out of the oven). My favorite recipe is “Teddy’s Apple Cake” from the New York Times Cookbook. The new one edited by Amanda Hesser. It’s great for breakfast and provides a distraction both while cooking and eating. In case you need one.

Notice how I wrote, "too sweet." I've adjusted the sugar for you, but feel free to add more if you like.
Teddie's Apple Cake from The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century, Edited by Amanda Hesser

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 c peanut, vegetable, or corn oil
1 1/2 c sugar (the original recipe called for 2 cups)
3 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract
3 c peeled, cored, and thickly sliced apples
1 c chopped walnuts
1 c raisins (optional, since I've never put them in)

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan. Sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda.
2. Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer with a paddle (or in a bowl w a hand mixer) for 5 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy. Stir in the dry ingredients. Add the vanilla, apples, walnuts, and raisins (if using) and stir until combined.
3. Turn the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before turning out.