oy likes to cook.

The salad you see here is all his. It’s beautiful and my sole contribution to the project was slicing the apples. I’ve put the prettiest picture first, but my favorite is the next one because you can see the pecans he caramelized before they were tossed into the mix.

I am inclined to over-correct sometimes, to criticize the way things are being done instead of acknowledging the beauty of their being done at all and by such small hands. It is not my best quality. So when Roy suggests a cooking project, as he frequently does these days, I try to find more ways to say yes than no and then to contribute advice or support when he seeks it—or when it looks like something might catch fire.

Someone asked me why it was so important to me to identify the strengths and interests of The Three now. They are still relatively young; aren’t these revelations things that can wait to be arrived at and worried over?

The answer is an elegant one. Completing the boring assignments made by someone else and to their specifications can not only be less than engaging. They also create a perfect point of conflict between children and their parents. And between school work and various other obligations, we’ve got plenty of those, thanks.

What I want to nurture are the passions of the nine-year-old, the interests that he wants to learn more about independent of my 18-year-rule (God save the Queen), because it is in following these that will make him the most engaged and successful—whatever that might mean to him as an adult. Encouraging him in them now may just give him the confidence to persist in their pursuit when no one—least of all his mommy—is watching him.

If Roy’s salad looks like something you’d enjoy, too, you can find the recipe in the Harry’s Roadhouse Cookbook, page 98. The book is available again through the Santa Fe restaurant of the same name. Call ’em up!