Feeding the Masses

“It’s just that the roof is infested with squirrels. They eat the insulation all night long—you can hear them scratching—it’s maddening and nobody can ever really sleep.”

“His roommates are kind of jerks. One of them makes him pay for ramen.”

“He’s a really nice kid and he works really hard but only makes enough to pay for his bills, not food.”

These are the types of statements that make me blurt out things like, “Is it weird that I just want to have him over for dinner and send him home with some freezer meals? Because I do, and here’s why: Kid sounds like an orphan even though his parents are local—I have a soft spot in my heart for kids in this position because I was one. Also, if he’s half as nice as you say he is I’m sure it’ll put my heart at ease to know who you’re hanging out with when you’re not here.”  So I did. And we began planning a fiesta for the inspiring and sassy bunch of teenagers who are important to Koa (including the hardworking kid who recently jumped the nest). 

To select just one “best part” to share would not do justice to the inherent reward of spending this time with Koa. He is inching ever-closer to adventures devoid of my micromanagement and I often contemplate whether he will be one to randomly come home for dinner or drop by to do laundry and hang out on my couch (like my brother does), or whether he will be one to let the wind carry him far, far away to a place where he feels safe to bloom on his own terms (like I did). I realize there are countless ways this scenario might play out but I imagine him here in my space, his shoes at my entryway and his voice rising through the stairwell, eating seconds and thirds at my dinner table. Not every night or anything—I’m not wishing some sort of Oedipus complex upon our relationship—but I hope he will want to see me periodically and forever. Needless to say I am scrambling to reinforce our bond before he feels the need to ask me, in a really gentle voice with blue eyes shining, whether or not I’ll cosign for an apartment for him. I don’t always get it right, but when I do it feels like my vision will come to fruition.

So we went to the store together and bought a ton of food and drinks, compostable plates for easy cleanup, and disposable tin pans to save labor all around. We came home, threw The Budos Band on random, put on our aprons, and made quick work of over 40lbs of turkey enchiladas divided into 9 trays (some for the freezer, some for the friend, a BUNCH for the teenagers). In less than 90min we had churned out enough delicious food to feed the masses now and later. The crowd devoured 15lbs in less than an hour. 

The feeling of accomplishment was only amplified by Koa’s enthusiasm in learning new cooking skills. The immediate and clear benefit of him having the wholehearted blessing of his parents to invite his friends over for a home-cooked meal before heading out to their Saturday night shenanigans was expressed in his eyes, words, interactions with his brothers, and attention to my request that he be home and present early the next morning. Respect and support leads to respect and support? What? Mind. Blown. Teenagers are incredible and deep and inspiring and capable if we treat them as people going through tremendous transformations… because as it turns out, that’s exactly what they are. 

Sweet Koa, your transformation is a gift. Whenever it hurts just remember the turkey enchiladas.

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