The Kitchen Stove: A Place for Family Connection

Don’t look too closely. Most everything in my home has not stood the test of time.

That’s because children with early trauma or FASD have big emotions – and an immediate need to release them.

They slam doors. Extremely hard – sometimes pulling hinges from the frames. Their little feet kick big holes in walls. With a bare foot no less. And they throw things – big things that hit other things.

Why does glass break so easily?

They’re also impulsive and relentless in the pursuit. Like forcing the bedroom window open and eventually breaking the frame. Because they forget to unlock the latch.

StoveThat brings me to the stove.

Although one son broke the oven handle years ago – while faking an aggressive shove from me, it’s enjoyed a long life. In spite of the duct tape.

Over 25 years – longer than my children’s time with me.

The only stove they know.

But a replacement will soon arrive. With only two burners working – that heat ever more slowly, the time had come.

On Sunday my daughter made one last family dinner with the stove. Over a wonderful home-cooked meal, we reminisced – and laughed with each story. 

We all agreed that the stove had become a true bonding place over the years.

Something about the family cooking food together that breaks barriers and creates common ground. Something about preparing a meal that enables communication – which earlier in the day seemed impossible.

One opportunity after another. 

Lots of trial and error. No one needs to be perfect.

oatmealLearning by watching. Asking for assistance – without any hint of attitude. Seeing the results unfold.

Then savoring the taste together. Who can argue that?

For starters, the big pot of oatmeal on the stove every morning. You can smell the cinnamon from several rooms away. Never lumpy. As many raisins as you want.

Consistent. Predictable. A great way to start the morning.

And yes, all six of my kids ate it – and most still do today. Perhaps the warmth in their bowls warmed their hearts more than I realized.

More than a decade ago, Andrew became the oatmeal chef.

birthday-cake3

The many birthday cakes.

Always made at home. Usually chocolate. Lots of homemade butter frosting.

And made to order. Together. Somehow they tasted better. Devoured in whole at one sitting in five minutes or less.

Never the right number of candles.

A lasting family tradition.

The eggs. Cartons of eggs. Yours to make – so don’t blame me for shells on your plate. And never a problem with cholesterol levels.

eggsSome like scrambled. Others go for an omelet. The key is the small cast iron skillet – seasoned to perfection. No mess to clean. Nothing ever sticks to the pain.

Even when an unknown son named Travis left his eggs to burn and set off the smoke alarm.

Gluten-free pasta. I wasn’t kidding about waiting for the water to boil. Everyone had to learn a hard lesson, especially Brandon. The spaghetti blob returns – bigger than before.

And once the water is ready, don’t dump the pasta and walk away. It will turn to gluten-free mush that no one wants to eat  

After several years each mastered the skill. A feeling of success. Independence.

Spices and herbs. In the cabinet next to the stove. Experiment all you want. Create a masterpiece. Yours to own.

meal

Cumin, Turmeric, Oregano and Rosemary became Ashley’s favorites. Who needs a recipe when you can cook from taste and instinct?

No doubt, my daughter can make a delicious meal from scratch.

For Michael. Any kind of pepper – and garlic. The hotter the better. Who needs the salt? Surely not his kidneys.

And the favorite kitchen utensil. The whisk. Alex’s favorite. Something about the wrist action and the swirling motion. He always grew calmer after using it.

Moreover, the whisk and corn starch are an amazing couple. More gravy. More sauces. More puddings. 

My six kids will never say “no” to that. 

Good-bye, stove. Thanks for the memories – and the opportunity to bond with my children.

When my sons and daughter weren’t sure if they wanted – or needed – a parent like me, they let down their guard and enjoyed the moment. DCP

Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special: Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE

To follow Craig’s journey in raising his six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love

To follow my son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page NoLimitsAndrew – Andrew Peterson

To watch Andrew’s amazing ESPN 14-minute documentary, click here. Andrew Peterson ESPN Documentary

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