I'm loathe to describe making a simple pancake as a great family tradition, but this weekly custom is a real cornerstone of our lives together. In one way it's nothing at all, just habit, a weekend treat, but in another way it represents a lot; it marks the turn of the week, the arrival of the weekend, the pace has slowed and we're in no rush. It's one of those simple things that can bring us back together and make us feel grounded. It always stays the same, but it's also changing and growing with us - right now my girl can whisk a mean batter, but I'm definitely looking forward to the day when she can bring me pancakes in bed. Pancakes are our safe harbour and I hope that, as she grows, the sight and smell and making of them will make her feel as loved as she does now. I genuinely hope that making good pancakes is a part of growing a happy small person.
Now, I ought to caveat this by saying that I don't feel like an authority on parenting in ANY way. I only have one child to start with, which is a world of difference from those heroic / foolhardy fellows who have a brace or a gaggle of two, three or even more. I find this one keeps my hands and brain full to overflowing, so massive respect due to them (and I have a sneaking suspicion that my one just realised that she can expand her personality exponentially). In any case, all that to say, I have few lessons to impart, but for what they're worth, here's a few other things that resonate after a mighty four and a half years at the coalface of Mumming...
1) Always tidy away what you've finished playing with before you move on to the next thing - some adults I know could do with relearning this
2) Don't pass on your hang ups, or those of other people - my two personal childhood fears were dentists and wasps, so I'm doing everything I can to make sure they don't get passed on, but this also extends to much bigger stuff. Don't ever talk about other people's bodies, or your own, in a disparaging way. Make sure your smalls understand that there are all types of people, families and ways of loving in the world - if you talk to them about diversity in all its forms at all times then that will be their reality. And also, let's lay off the wolves, spiders and rats - why do they always have to be baddies?
3) Don't lie - you need to make sure the information you give them is age appropriate, but really, what's the point in making stuff up so they are confused in the future? Let's call a spade a spade and a vulva a vulva, then there's a lot less to unlearn or feel fearful of. We cloak things that we think they won't like, with good reason; we're too mimsy to explain what eating meat really entails, which reveals that many of us don't like the reality. But then I am a card carrying vegetarian of 30 years standing! I tell my daughter what she's eating and how it got there. She still chooses to eat meat, she just isn't about to discover that she's been had.
So, that's quite a leap from making some batter once a week, but then we are what we eat, aren't we? Our pancake recipe is simplicity itself and is undoubtedly no better than any other, but it serves us well:
200g plain flour
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Mix together the eggs and flour then gradually introduce the milk and water mix until all is combined with no lumps or bumps. Stir in the sunflower oil and leave for as long as you can resist, then pan fry in batches. Civilised people will eat with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of sugar...