Small problems seem to be bigger than they were, small sadnesses magnify themselves, but the small joys are also brighter.
One of my joys today was that John had a dinner meeting, and Jet wanted to make pasta. Then, out of the blue this afternoon, he said, "Mom, you could get a sweet potato and make sweet potato noodles!"
I had to go to the grocery store for mizithra cheese anyway... so I took Jet's faith and bought a sweet potato too. I had the very vaguest idea of how to make sweet potato noodles, but decided that if Jet thought I could, I'd do it.
On the most part, Jet seems to be doing just fine. He's been cheerful and accommodating, even under a compressed schedule for his science project. The weekend that we were in Seattle, Jet was supposed to be working on his science project, because it was due a bare week after we got home. He really buckled down and worked on it for several days straight, giving up evenings, video games with me, and the board and card games we usually play after dinner. He managed to do everything he wanted to do, and he and John brought the display into school on Tuesday morning.
Throughout the day on Wednesday, judges went through all of the projects, spoke to the student that did each project, and scored every single one. The judges also made comments on every single project they saw, and that night there was an open house for everyone to come see everything. There are also prizes given for each subject and each grade. Jet was very cheerful about everything that went on, and didn't mind in the least that he didn't win any of the prizes. That wasn't the point. He just really liked the experiment that he did.
It was only the next day that I saw the report from the judge that spoke to Jet. The judge was very impressed by him, and left the comment 'really bright kid' on the judge's notes. Later, he contacted the coordinator for all of the science projects in order to send Jet a link to Alan Alda's request for an explanation of exactly what a flame is in language an 11-year-old would understand. Jet was pretty pleased. He also really like going to Dairy Queen after the judging.
So when folks asked me how Jet was doing, I've been answering that he's been doing fine. I don't think that's a lie, however, I do think he's a little more fragile at the moment that I thought originally. It's not like he doesn't know what's going on.
When I got home from the grocery store and the post office (the second Kensington trackball I've tried to buy from Amazon failed me as well, and I was returning it for a replacement), I pierced the single sweet potato I had bought and tossed it into the toaster oven at 325° for about an hour. When it was cooked through, I sliced one third of it off and put it through a ricer. I blew on it to cool it off a little, cracked an egg into it, and then started mixing the winter wheat flour we usually use as our all-purpose flour into it to make as dry a dough as possible. I just kept kneading more flour into it until it was almost too stiff for me to handle.
It was a very pretty orange, and when I started running it through the pasta machine, the dough proved to be a little bit too wet. I kept working more flour in, and called on Jet to see if he was done with his homework and wanted to help me. He came down, and started getting almost weepy, trying to tell me that he hadn't asked for sweet potato noodles. I was a little impatient as I was nearly half an hour late with dinner, but I stopped and asked him, "Why are you so sad?"
Jet told me that he had gotten involved with his iTouch, and hadn't noticed that more time than he wanted had passed while he was playing games. So he wasn't able to do all the homework that he had wanted to finish, and he felt very bad about that. I ended up just hugging him, and telling him that it was all right, there would be more time after dinner. I also asked if he wanted to help me make the noodles, so we could both eat. He just needed a few minutes of hugs, and then the fascination of the crank and seeing the dough turn into noodles. He got a few more minutes while I had to brown butter, and came back saying that he got as much homework done as he usually did on Monday, so it really was all right.
The noodles came out perfect. Just a hint of sweetness from the sweet potatoes, which was really complemented by the browned butter and the creamy Mizithra cheese. Jet asked me to do an entire extra helping just for him, because with both the egg and the potato the dough turned out to be enough for four servings. Jet happily ate two entire servings, drank two glasses of milk, and had half a churro for dessert. I suspect that he was really hungry, on top of everything else.
I found that I'm still a little fragile too, and crying at odd moments. Usually about happy stories or stories of people doing more than expected. Church was good on Sunday, the message being very clear about how the equation of "believe the right things" + "do the right things" = "nothing bad will ever happen to you" is utterly false and leaves no room for God. That things happen, like the rain falling on everyone. Faith doesn't prevent bad things, faith gets people through the dark times. Lent and Holy Week are the prime examples of bad things happening to good people, and something extraordinary coming of it.
I think I needed a reminder of that lesson.
When Jet went to bed, I asked him if he liked the pasta, despite the tears at the beginning, and he smiled at me and said, "Yeah. I loved it. Love you, Mom."
And that, for me, was faith rewarded.