Thirteen is a ridiculous age. How can a person be so achingly sweet one moment and so sassy-bordering-on-cruel the next? How can a person be sunny and confident one second and in tears over some imagined slight the next? How can a person be mature and wise, as good a friend and advisor as anyone could hope for, and turn into a childish menace because someone got more pizza than he did? I’m sure I was a piece of work when I was thirteen. Moody, disagreeable, constantly saying things I regretted the second I said them. And now we have a thirteen-year-old in the house, and it all comes rushing back, that feeling of being helplessly unable to control what you think or feel or say. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and remembering, and remembering makes me feel anxious all over again, lying awake worrying. And then one night we were in the car and the boys were bickering. I sighed and said, “It gets me down when you do that.” And Malcolm said, “Everything gets you down! I hate it when you’re depressed. But when you’re happy it’s the best thing in the world!” Well! That hit me like a ton of bricks! 46 is the most ridiculous age! One minute you’re feeling happy and hopeful, and the next you’re walking around the house sighing and sad, bringing everyone in the family down with you! But that’s not okay. I’m the adult. I’m the parent. It’s my job, my responsibility, to make the boys feel better when they’re down. Or to recognize that I can’t make them feel better, and to give them the space they need to be cranky, to ignore the things they say that they probably instantly regret. It’s my job to recognize when I’m being miserable and childish and to snap out of it. I was thinking about all of this and feeling a little bad, feeling a little irresponsible.
Apparently there was a slight chance we could see the aurora borealis from our part of the world. We knew we wouldn’t see the lights, but we took a drive above the town anyway, because when it gets dark an hour earlier you take any excuse to get out of the house after dinner. We parked next to the cemetery on the hill and looked down at our town, surprisingly noisy, and so beautifully bustling and bright we’d never see anything spectacular in the sky. Malcolm lay on his back and stared up at the stars, while in the town below him most of the people he’d known most of his life went about their lives. It must have been a little dizzying, and just the thought of it set me reeling. When he stood up I hugged him and he said, “I love you, too.” And that’s hopeful! That’s heartening! I don’t even need to tell him, and he knows!
I thought of these as being a combination between pakoras, which Isaac likes, and Gnocchi, which Malcolm likes. They have chickpea flour in them, and they’re fried in olive oil so they’re very crisp on the outside, but they have an egg and a little cheese in them, and they’re nice and soft on the inside. They have kale, but the boys loved them anyway.
Here’s Beginning to See the Light by The Velvet Underground.
1 bunch kale
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup saltine crackers or 1 slice bread
1/3 cup pistachios
1/3 cup pinenuts
2 or 3 sage leaves
2 t rosemary
1 t lemon thyme
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil for frying
Trim the kale and put it in a medium-sized pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, stir and cook for a few minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, chop.
Put the chickpea flour in a small bowl and add enough boiling water to make a thick, smooth paste, slightly less than a cup. Stir with a fork until smooth, and then set aside.
In a food processor combine the crackers or bread and the herbs. Process till coarse and crumbly. Add the cheese and process again until coarse and crumbly (I don’t actually grate the cheese–I cut off a chunk about 1 1/2 inches wide, cut that into smaller pieces, and let the food processor take care of the rest. Add the kale, process again to combine. Add the nuts, chickpea flour, egg and process to combine. You want it to be smooth but still have texture. Season with salt and pepper.
Warm the olive oil in a frying pan or wok. You want it to be maybe 1/3 inch deep.