“Can you buy a gross of forks? If it were just the two of us, that would last us about five lifetimes. With the kids, it’ll be lucky if it lasts us five years.”
We were standing in the kitchen looking in the silverware drawer, where there is indeed a dearth of forks. I’d found two underneath pantry shelves while sweeping the kitchen the other day, and have a theory that there are more in bedrooms, as much as they deny it.
Kids. Or the reasons we can’t have nice things. I’m not going to order a gross of forks. I am contemplating ordering a couple of dozen, though… we’ve bought silverware twice in the last 18 months, and sometimes I wonder if they are eating it. Roughage? They are a bit old to do what they used to do, when we’d be digging the garden beds and find mysterious spoons. Those days, I needed a gross of spoons. Now it’s forks. What’s next?
The Ginja Ninja and I have been talking a lot recently about this coming year. It’s a big year for her – the biggest in her young life to date. She will graduate from highschool, start college, and plans to start her first jobs very soon. She told me that it’s scary, thinking about everything that is changing in her life. She’s going from a kid, to an adult, and it’s painful.
Adults have to worry about forks, kids don’t. To them, forks are invisible. Sure, they eat with them, but if one slides into the trash while they’re scraping their plate, they don’t notice, or care. Adults, on the other hand, have to suck it up and stick their hand in the trash to retrieve it. Because it’s just a fork, but forks add up. And a hand can be washed along with the fork. While we were talking about the forks in the kitchen, the First Reader showed me one of our two egg pans. Both are reserved for eggs, because they are the only non-stick pans we own. I prefer cast iron, in no small part because you can’t do to a cast iron pan what a kid can do to a Teflon pan.
It’s not that he scraped the heck out of it. It’s that the Little Man doesn’t yet grasp that you need to grease even a non-stick pan, and that if you put scrambled eggs in a pan with no lubricant and then burn the heck out of it, there’s no going back. “If I did that to a pan,” the First Reader who was born in the era of thrift told me, “I’d have gotten what for. I don’t remember ever doing it, though, and maybe that was because pans were tougher back then.” Which is a good point. Pans were tougher – you could scour the ever-living daylights out of a cast iron or the heavy aluminum he remembers in his mother’s kitchen. You can’t exactly do that with Teflon. It’s less forgiving.
The learning part of growing up involves losing forks, digging in the garden with spoons, burning pans… and being yelled at so you learn not to do that again. As an adult there are other considerations that keep us more careful of our belongings – we don’t want to have to buy stuff all the time that shouldn’t need replacing that often. Part of the transition from childhood to adulthood that my daughter is just starting to learn is the personal responsibility. A child is made to be responsible by outside pressures. Parents who demand to know what they have been doing with the forks, and give them what-for when they ruin a pan. An adult retrieves the fork because that’s money they want to be able to use somewhere else, not buying more freaking forks.
So that’s what I’m going to try and do this year. Teach the Ginja Ninja why forks are important, so she’ll be able to adult better when she’s on her own. The lessons of adulting are painful when one doesn’t have a support system. But I also don’t want to give her so much support she’s swaddled up in it, because that will weaken her muscles and leave her unable to function without that support. First, though, I need to get to the store and buy some forks.