Friday, July 13, 2012

What I have been up to, or why I love my job

Week 3 of summer camp at the cooking school is over, with probably some of the most interesting stories to date. Some of them I will not share here, lest people come across them and see themselves, or feel that I'm being ... exaggeraty.


Let me just say this: Folks... when somebody asks you "Are there any foods you do not eat due to dietary restrictions, such as pork, or due to allergies, like maybe peanuts?" Answer the question. Don't call the next day and say "Um, I should have taken you seriously when you asked me that... because my daughter came home with pork chops. And we don't eat pork..."

Also, News Flash: A cooking series focusing on Italian cooking from many different regions will have pork in it. Believe it or not, Italians eat more than Pasta.

Anyway. Keep reading, dear reader...

On Monday morning I came to work and Jo was sitting on the couch on the phone, with a mom. Seems a young gentleman had fallen off his stool, and then fainted after he got up, so mom was called to come get him.

As a mom, I know what a nightmare and pain in the ass it is to get that phone call. Jo had me sit with him, and try to encourage him to come back into the class and pick up where he left off.  I have training with concussion and head injuries, not certified by the Red Cross or anything fancy, but I have enough BSA training and have had other training through the years to know when it is a cut and when to use a tourniquet ... when it is a bump and when it is "call an ambulance, we have to get to the hospital." Long time readers will remember a certain bike trip in 2011 with our boy scouts where Robbie broke his arm crashing into another bike rider on the trails down on the Cape.

I wouldn't let him fall asleep, and he cried about that. All he wanted to do was sleep. But I explained to him why I wasn't going to let him fall asleep. He could rest his eyes, but then I would check his pupils when I talked to him a few minutes later. "Are my eyes the same size?" he asked me after I explained pupil dilation to him. His eyes were fine, and I loved the idea that one EYE would be bigger than the other.

He wanted an ambulance, I told him all he needed was mommy. He didn't need an ambulance, but I was going to sit with him until mommy came. He then told me that he felt like he was going to throw up, which is not a good sign, so I was worried that he did have a concussion.

If I were his mom, I'd head to the hospital upon picking him up.

I asked him if he wanted to watch cartoons, and he did. So I turned on the TV and found Spongebob Squarepants. Perfect. I love me some Spongebob. I asked if that was okay and he whined yes.

It was an episode (which I love) called "The Great Snail Race." I wish I could find a picture of it, because it cracks me up. In the episode, Spongebob is training Gary (his pet snail) too hard for a race against Squidward and his new fancy assed snail. At the race, Gary basically explodes. He "blows a head gasket" and his shell explodes off of him and he has a "double blow out" where his eyeballs explode.

His eyeballs EXPLODE. Makes me laugh every time. So I asked the little one, "do your eyes feel like that?" You know me, I am always trying to make a joke and lighten the mood.

"That's not funny." He whispered with a sad tone borderline crying. I immediately felt bad and apologized. I forget that 10 year year olds can be very serious when they don't feel good. I apologized, and held his hand. And we talked about head injuries and other things. He asked me how I knew so much, and I told him how I work with a boy scout troop and sometimes, people get hurt and grownup leaders really have to know their stuff.

He repeatedly asked for an ambulance, I knew mom would do what mom thought was right. Eventually she made it to us. Traffic was awful.... and when she came in he yelled "NO! I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE!"

"Dude -- a second ago you were telling me you wanted an ambulance!"

So mom packed him up, and Aley brought the food that she helped prepare to keep him up to speed in the class (Chicken Taj Maholla and Basmati rice) so he had SOMEthing to show for the class.

We told mom that we had wi-fi so if she wanted to bring her laptop in, she could work in our office if her job let her. 

Mom came in the next day with him, and said that he most likely would freak if she left so she did work there. And he settled in fine, and turned into the rock star that I hoped he would.

I kind of fell in love.

Repeatedly during the week, I would go in to check on him (with my camera, the kids know that I take pictures of summer camp for our website and facebook page) and he was right there in the moment, attentive, focused, listening, working hard on everything. He had a big smile for me each time. He was just fantastic. And so proud of what he was making. Bad start of the week turns into the best success story ever. Ah me. Warms my heart.

I want to post his picture here but I don't think I have mom's permission. If you go to find it on Flickr or on FB in the cooking school page, I think you'll be able to figure out who he is.

We also had another group of kids where there were two brothers who were just absolutely fantastic. They were nothing if not trouble, full of awesome energy with a willingness to make anything.

They had come to visit over the winter with mom and dad to look at the cooking school so when they showed up for this week's session I was so glad to see them when they showed up a little early on Monday morning... We had a long and wonderful talk about cooking food, and how sometimes you may not like something (he didn't like bananas and they were part of the first day's ingredients) but the person you are cooking FOR loves it.

I explained my philosophy was that the biggest most awesome chef in the world isn't a celebrity -- it is someone who knows how to cook for the ones he loves, his family... his friends, even when he hates the ingredients. I don't like lobsters and steamers but I do know how to make them because so many of my friends like it.

During the class, when I was in there taking pictures and there was a girl whining that she didn't like dried apricots. They were an ingredient in something, and she was refusing to put them in because they were DISGUSTING!

I heard one of the little brothers parrot almost word for word what I'd told him early that day about cooking for family and friends. He was enthusiastically putting currants into something and said "I don't know what currants are but I can't wait to put them in here and try them, and if I don't like them maybe my mom does!"

Reluctantly the girl put her dried apricots into her food.

From the mouths of babes. Honestly. Love. I love these guys. I was sad to see this week end with them. And I hope to see them again.


  1. We need a cook at my house.....

  2. send your girl to me for a week. she'll come back a cook.
    summer camp is genius!

  3. I love that perspective on cooks. That is awesome. I'm going to parrot you, too.