It has been a long, tiring day. Work in the morning, classes in the afternoon. Parking ticket in between. The princess asks for a barbie the moment she sets eyes on me, before saying hello. I do not give a civilized answer. She cries, and then sulks.
I prepare dinner. White basmati rice, cooked in kateh style, (which means it is cooked without straining). Mince meat fried lightly with chopped onions, a handful of cubed potatoes, tomato paste, some spices. Nice fresh healthy food. I set out plates for the children. Some white rice, some red-gold meat.
The golden boy does something he has never done before. He pokes at a bit of fried onion on his plate, and asks “What’s that?”
I sense danger. I say “oh- that is just something to cook the meat in.” He pushes his plate aside. “I don’t like cabbage,” he declares. He wanders off to the pot of white rice, and his favoured manner, begins eating fistfuls of rice straight out of the pot.
Meanwhile, the princess is pushing around the rice and meat with her fork. Her spoon is lying beside her plate, untouched. It is driving me crazy. “Eat your rice with a spoon. Look, like me. Use your fork to push the rice into your spoon.”
-“No. I want to eat with a fork and knife, like in daycare”.
-“That’s silly. You don’t eat rice in daycare.”
-“Yes we DO! All the time! And we eat it with forks.”
-“Well, we have always eaten rice with spoons. Ever since you were born, you were eating rice with spoons. How come you have forgotten how to do it and suddenly want to eat rice with a fork?” My voice seems to be rising hysterically. Why is this so important to me? Did my great-grandmothers feel the same way when they saw their children eating rice with spoons, pretending to be Europeans, instead of rolling it into small round balls and eating it with their fingers, like traditional Iranians? “JUST USE A SPOON! IT IS MUCH EASIER! AND LESS DANGEROUS!”.
The golden boy has scattered grains of white rice all over the carpet. I wonder whether I can get away with just picking it up , or whether it needs a vacuum cleaner.
Vacuum cleaner. Like a proper traditional Iranian woman.