Mindlessly one Monday morning I found myself walking into the pantry, reaching down to the tub of brown onions. I pulled one out and walked back into the kitchen. With even less thought, I reached for the chopping board, then the knife. Within moments, the brown onion had been peeled, peelings thrown into the bin, diced and ready to be thrown into the waiting saucepan. I took five more steps to the fridge, pulled out the jar of minced garlic and added a huge teaspoon to the saucepan. Dinner had started. Yet, I didn’t even know what I was cooking.
You see, it always starts with a brown onion and a dash of garlic. As a little girl, I watched my mother and my grandmother religiously prepare meals for the family – always starting with a brown onion and a dash of garlic. It almost didn’t matter what they ended up cooking. The meal always started that way.
So here I was. In my own kitchen. Doing the same thing.
I sat and thought for a moment. The onion and garlic were browning ever so slowly in the saucepan. I don’t like onion. Actually, I really don’t like onion. I’m not meticulous enough to chop my brown onion finely. Instead I end up with chunks of brown onion throughout every meal. I don’t even remember what I ended up cooking that night.
The next day, the same ritual of preparing dinner in the morning started. But this time I stopped myself. I did not go into the pantry. I did not reach down to the tub of brown onions. I did not peel or chop one and add it to my saucepan. I like garlic. Actually I love garlic. So instead, on this particular morning, that is how I started. One generous serve of extra virgin olive oil and a good dash of garlic.
That week, the brown onion kept niggling away at my mind. What else do I do without thinking? What habits have I learnt so inherently from my childhood that they no longer required conscious thought to complete?
That is when it struck me. So much of what I do and who I am is inherent. Good or bad, it happens, every day. So much that I do not notice. I do not question. Perplexed, I began to think: what do I do now that my boys will mirror in their lives?
I don’t need to wait for the future to have an answer to that question.
AJ already is obsessively tidy and neat. He already follows order and routine with such ease and comfort. He needs that in his day, just like his mother does. PJ, while only three, already sits and lingers in my shadow. Just the other morning I came downstairs to find him already awake and sitting at the computer. I asked him what he was doing and he righteously, almost defiantly, said “I’m working on my blog mum.”
Right then I learned that I may teach my boys their manners. I may teach them how to behave when we go out. I may teach them to how to sit at the dinner table to eat and join in our family conversation. But maybe what I am not teaching them is what they are learning the most.