Making Pizza with Children

The experience of Saturday perfectly illustrates how different my two girls are. A lot of people tell me that raising a boy will be different, and I believe them, but as I mentioned before: raising Flora and Kate has by no means been a cookie cutter experience.

Since I was going out of town, I wanted to have dough for pizzas ready for dinner with my in-laws on Sunday. I figured it was something that the girls and I could do Saturday. There would be plenty of time for me to make the dough, clean up, and head to Erie at a reasonable hour. (I cut the shower time a little close.)

Making dough with Flora

F: “What’s that?”
M: “That’s yeast.”
F: What’s yeast?
M: Yeast helps the dough grow.
F: What’s that? Honey?
M: No, this is olive oil.
F: When do we add more honey?
M: We don’t need to add any more honey. Can you stir it a little more, please?
F: Why does it need honey?
M: Honey is for the yeast. No don’t touch that.
F: Why does the yeast need honey?
M: Because honey helps the yeast make the dough grow. Can you put that down?
F: Why is the flour two different colors?
M: Because one is whole wheat flour.
F: Why is it whole wheat flour?
M: Because mommy likes to use whole wheat flour.
F: Can I stir it?
M: Yes, just —
F: Ooops!
M (exhaling through nose): It’s okay, let’s just — hold on. Okay, never mind. Let’s use our hands to make a ball.
F (plunging hands into dough)
M: Don’t pull it apart, push it together.
F (still pulling dough)
M: Like, hold on, let’s just get it out of the bowl. No, not…
F and I wrestle with the dough — let’s call it kneading — and I finally get it shaped into a ball. I plop it into an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and set the timer for two hours.

Making dough with Kate

M: Okay, first we add water, then the wine. Here’s the yeast. Go ahead and stir.
Kate slowly drags the whisk through the milky liquid, around and around.
M: Here’s the honey. I really like the way you’re stirring that, Kate.
Kate and I watch the whisk. ‘Round and ’round.
Flora takes the silence as an opportunity to say something.
F: When it is my turn?
M: You already had a turn, sweetie.
F: When is it my turn again?
M: You already made your dough. It’s Kate’s turn now.
F: I want another turn!
M: It’s Kate’s turn now.
Flora stomps once, and pouts. When I don’t respond, she wanders over to the kitchen table to occupy herself with some spin art.
I keep adding the ingredients to Kate’s bowl. I help her stir a little faster.
K: Why we stirring faster, mama?
M: We can stir faster now because we’re adding more stuff. Okay, it’s time to add the flour now.
I add the flour, and help Kate stir it into the liquid. She is so focused, so quiet. After a bit, I encourage her to use her hands, but she doesn’t like the stickiness too much. As it gets less sticky, she squeezes it more. I rinse out her bowl so we can put the dough in it to let it rise. She pounds gamely on her lump. Again, call it kneading. We shape the dough into a ball. Kate asks to wash her hands.

I love Flora’s inquisitiveness. I love Kate’s focus. I admire their ways of being in the world — it just strikes me, in instances like this experience of making dough with them, how dissimilar they are. It happens, too, when they bend their heads together over a shared task or book: my brunette, my blonde. How two such different girls came from the same place is wondrous to me. And it makes me want to meet Le Bud even more, to revel in the ways he will be different, too, yet again.

9 thoughts on “Making Pizza with Children

  1. ROFL…i love the stories about your girls. They remind me of my & my sister. We also have a 3rd, albeit a girl, that about the same distance apart…and shes even MORE different than me & the older one. It amazes me & mom to this day. How can 3 humans that are the product of the same 2 people, all raised in the same house together can be so completely different?!? Gotta love it!

  2. Great story… what a contrast, and different than what I might expect… I would have thought Flora (the older one) would have been more quiet and focused and Kate (the younger one) more inquisitive and motor-mouthed.

    • Flora is Just.Like.Her.DAD. easily distracted, a little moody. (Hi, Dan! xoxo) And Kate? is a lot like me, which is probably why we butt heads so often. The teen years will be… interesting.

  3. I’m an only child, so it is both amazing and slightly alarming to see my children turn out to be (1) so different from each other and (2) so different from me. Aren’t we just supposed to be carbon copies?? But then, where would the fun in that be?? =>

  4. I find it amazing that anyone thought children were total tabula rasa on which a personality is imposed, though those particular theories were generally proposed by men who had little experience of their children outside of structured activities. Of our children, one is a copy of her original mother, one a copy of his father, and one who thinks more like me though the distraction, mesomorphic physique and poor grades are all his own. Middle child, who is like his father in that the universe had better follow the rules as he understands them, is always searching the world for a theory of everything. For example, we usually had birthday parties in the evening, because most of the family works and it is more convenient. When he was about 8, his cousin had her one year birthday and the party was scheduled for morning. He told me that the party was scheduled in the morning because she was born in the morning, and his birthday party was in the evening because he was born in the evening. When I told him that he was born in the morning, he tried to convince me to have his next party at the same time. Unfortunately, most people are not feeling festive at 6:27AM.

    • It’s funny because Dan had that idea moreso than I did (although not totally). I think he wondered who would be more like whom. Although they definitely have traits one way or the other, they are definitely, their own little personalities!

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