Tuesday, February 05, 2008

gender again, and dinner

Does this child look like a girl to you? Yes? No? Can't tell? It seems that when we are out and about, most people interpret Big One's long hair as a feminine feature. And by most, I mean 99% of the people we encounter who don't already know us think he is a girl. They're not even unsure of themselves. They freely, openly, and mistakenly refer to this child as a she, as her, as my daughter. Never mind the completely boyish clothes, never mind the absence of feminine embellishment, all they see is the hair. (As if I would allow my daughter to go around with such raggedy hair. The very idea.) His hair has caused some awkward moments in and around men's rooms, where he is often mistaken for a girl who has taken a wrong turn.

Big One is completely aware of this (it would be quite difficult to hide it from him, even if I wanted to) but it doesn't bother him a bit. He has been growing it out for the last several years, with a few minor detours when I prevailed on him to get it cut, but I must confess that these haircuts really only served to strengthen his resolve. He doesn't have a goal, he doesn't want it to get to his shoulders or his elbow (as a girl would) he just wants his hair to keep growing.

So be it. I can't stop him. I know, because I've tried. Anything I might possibly say about cultural norms and hair would ring false, because his father and I both have hair well past our shoulders. The only requirement I have is that he wash it once a week, and that he brush it every day.


I need some help.

I have mentioned that I used to have a job, and that Joe used to do the cooking. When I say Joe did the cooking, I mean he did all the cooking. The last time I cooked for myself on a regular basis was circa 1990, which was the last time I was single. This is a little ironic, because Joe and I met working in restaurant kitchens, and between us we've done just about every job there is to do in a restaurant, back of the house. Line cook, prep cook, dish, you name it. I even did a stint in a natural foods grocery where my back-of-the-house jobs were baking bread, granola, and pastries. But for the last 18 years, pretty much since we've been together, I didn't cook in my house at all.

Fast forward to last fall. Suddenly Joe gets a full time job, suddenly I have no job, I decide to stay home with the kids, and now I am responsible for making dinner. Joe's hours are long, his commute makes them longer, and it would be pretty lame if I couldn't manage to make food. For the first few weeks, my attempts were pretty lame. I have burned frozen squash, I have served cheese and crackers for dinner, I have told the kids to look through the fridge and see what they can find. In the beginning, it was a challenge for me to get spaghetti on the table at a reasonable time.

But then, things started to get in to a sort of groove. I'm no savant, but I can sort of do it now. I've learned that it helps to plan ahead, I've learned that it's smart to shop for the kinds of foods you like to cook and eat (this eluded me in the beginning), and I've learned that there are a few meals I can make with very little planning and still work out okay.

So far my super-easy meals are:

beans and rice
(make brown rice in the pressure cooker, open a can of refried beans, warm some tortillas if I'm feeling really ambitious.)

randomness soup
(saute some onions with some dried herbs, add this to some beans cooking in vegetable stock, throw in some celery, carrots, potatoes, whatever I have around) This is not quick, because it requires that I be around to monitor the soup, add water, adjust the flame, etc., but it is very easy, because once it's cooking, it just cooks, and I can go back to whatever it was I was doing before the necessity of dinner came along and bonked me on the head.

But I really want some more of these sorts of meals, and that's where you come in. Some of you make dinner all the time. I want to know what your super-easy, no planning required meals are. Please put them in the comments if you want to share, or else email them to me (new email address in my profile!) if you don't. No recipes required (I have lots of cookbooks and can figure things out) I'm really just looking for menu ideas here.

Thanks! And thanks for reading my blog.


penelope said...

Macaroni and cheese. Do you eat guys eat cheese?
baked potatoes with green beans and red beans.
fritatta (with the left over potatoes)
burrito bar (put all the fillings on the table for everyone to make their own.)
Tomato soup from a can with grilled cheese sandwiches and a salad.
brown rice (or quinoa) with pan fried tofu and steamed broccoli (we have this quite a lot, and I make a pan sauce out of whatever condiments are in the fridge)

I'll drop off a copy of the teddy cookie receipe for you.

I can't imagine ever thinking Tim is a girl, but whatever, people. My thoughts are that if he doesn't care, then it's not such a big problem. I'm imagining that eventually he might start minding. Or else cross-dressing to complete the look.

Penelope said...

2nd comment: when I look at this post, the photo of Tim is right next to your profile photo, and the similarities are remarkable. Except Tim's hair seems a bit more styled than yours...

Elsie said...

Yes, I noticed that too. It's been happening lately. When he was a baby, he looked exactly like Erik, uh, I mean Joe. Now more like me... genetics are mysterious.

Thanks for your meal suggestions. I always forget about tofu. It hardly ever makes it to dinner because O likes to eat it plain.

Granna Judy said...

Funny -- two weeks ago, the last time I saw Big One, he had a round face. Now it's long and angular, just like yours. What happened to him in the last three weeks??

I'm just glad that he doesn't mind being mistaken for a girl. It would be too bad if it kept happening and kept bothering him.

elsie deluxe said...

Right, except that if it kept happening and it bothered him, he might actually consent to a haircut.

Ipo said...

i don't find that reaction all that odd - folks take slight glances at folks and put them in a tidy box usually... long hair, girl, etc. plus, being that he is only 10 and hasn't hit puberty he might come off as fairly androgynous. if he wants long hair for whatever reason or lack of one, who cares. if someone mistakes him for a girl, who cares. people judge each other all the time, folks think that because i support waldorf, etc. that i must be media free, which is very far from the truth. this society is victim to that all the time. and if he cuts it because of desire or pressure, that is also a part of this society. it's all just life lessons isn't it?! we have a friend who's 12 year old boy's hair is as long as mine, well past his shoulders, he likes it, has to deal/brush it himself daily and that is that.

off topic, only washing once a week? wow, i have long hair and i usually wash it every other day... that part is what i found most interesting in that post, funny me :-)))))

baked tofu with soy and onions
"left-overs" stir fry
crock pot meals
breakfast dinner day
have everyone pick a day that they pick the meal
sandwich buffet

but don't take this list as any indication that i have the dinner scene at all figured out either :-))

Granna Judy said...

The hair is less important than the self-confidence. The hair is really a non-issue -- it's the confidence you want to nourish.

But of course you know that.

elsie deluxe said...

Yes, the hair is actually fine with me. I think my ambivalence stems from my lingering shreds of desire to comply, culturally. I'm actually pleased and proud that this doesn't matter to him. I know I came across more resigned than proud, but mostly I think it's really cool that he just doesn't care. And it's interesting.

Ipo, washing more than once a week doesn't seem necessary yet. Hormonally he's still a little child, although his stature, opinions and interests are otherwise.

Lindsay said...

Our easy meals include the following:
pasta and sauce or butter/cheese (salad makes this a more complete meal)
potatoes with everything (eg butter, sour cream, cheese, chives)
Mac and Cheese with broccoli and ground beef (baked)
edamame and cheese and crackers - one of my favourites
quesadillas - I don't do spicy, so mine usually have cheese, any left-over meat or appropriate vege and non-spices like garlic or dill or oregano
Red beans and brown rice - but we usually add corn to that and I really like that added flavour
...might I add that JP does most to all of our cooking, with the exception of pasta. :)
Good for Big One. I imagine being homeschooled will actually encourage his willingness to not conform. Good for you for encouraging him to be himself. That's just one more choice (like learning french or an instrument) that he'll learn from.