I've been stalking the Annie's Eats food blog for a while now, and I just love her to death! She takes beautiful photos of the food (and lets face it...that's what draws me in to the food), but every recipe is practically fool proof. I don't think I've made a single thing yet that I haven't absolutely loved...until yesterday. I made hot chocolate mix this holiday season and I love the stuff, but it needs to be made with milk and we were going through an awful lot of milk around here. Then I found the hot cocoa mix and figured I'd give it a shot. I was pretty tired yesterday (as usual) so I mixed it up as best as I could and tried it out. Not bad, but not what I'd expected. I had a few cups last night, trying to trick it out with a little of this or a little of that but it wasn't working out. Then today I thought I'd try again...and use good quality powdered milk (instead of generic) and the chocolate flavored creamer to kick up the chocolate flavor that was lacking. As I mixed it up this morning I realized what I'd done yesterday...I forgot to add in the salt! It's crucial. So today I mixed up another batch with the flavored dry coffee creamer, and realized that this batch would have been perfect if I'd just used the regular creamer like I did yesterday, lol. So now i have two 32-oz jars of almost perfect hot cocoa mix and I'm sure the boys won't care a bit about how it's not exactly perfect. Third time's a charm?...
So anyway, last night I was on the way to bed and felt suddenly philosophical about why I do what I do, and how blessed I really am. It usually happens after I've had a big emotional parenting set-back like I had on Monday. But I had a chance yesterday to help a brother and sister learn to knit. They'd come in to take a class together, and they didn't fit our usual customer demographic. I was a little on edge at first but after they picked out their yarn I took her brother over to find an appropriate set of needles. I noticed right away that he was a little different. A little shy. A little hesitant and unsure of himself. Very sweet. And I realized that he needed a little extra care so I chose the needles for him.
We went back and sat down and I asked him about what he wanted to make. That was when I realized that he had a learning disorder, or a mild developmental disability of some sort. I don't know what, and I didn't ask (because honestly it wasn't my business and I didn't care). I only picked up on something because of my training. So I showed him how to knit and talked about how it's like an exercise and our muscles in our hands will learn what to do and take over after a while. He was so diligent! He really struggled at first and it took about an hour of constant coaching and instruction before he was able to knit his first stitch unassisted. At one point I wasn't sure if he'd be able to learn it, but the time was his...he was paying for it...and I just kept trying to show him what to do, altering my instruction where I felt it was appropriate and breaking steps down smaller and smaller if necessary. He kept apologizing for not getting it, and I kept telling him it wasn't necessary, and cheering him on. Every time he did something right, I got really excited for him. At one point, their mother called to check on him and he told her that he was at the knitting shop taking a lesson, and that he was having fun :) I couldn't tell because he was concentrating so hard, but he was enjoying himself. That encouraged me so I didn't give up, and kept being patient; sometimes using hand-over-hand to help him learn the feeling of the stitches, and sometimes demonstrating on the piece I was knitting. And finally, finally it all paid off when he completed a stitch on his own! I have never been so proud of a student in my entire teaching life. Then he did another, and another, and another. Once he had it down, I switched with my friend who had been helping his sister, and I went over to see what she was doing, and help her out a bit, while my friend kept an eye on my star pupil.
After about half the class went by, my friend asked why they decided to take up knitting. The sister told us that her brother was a twin, and that his twin had just passed away last month. They were taking this class together as a way to help them heal from his loss. We could tell right away that she was very protective of this younger brother, and she took great care of him. He lives near the shop in an apartment of his own, and checks in with a caseworker every morning to take his medication and evaluate how he's doing on his own. He's a success story. And now he's become my friend, how promises to stop in and say 'hello' to me when he walks by in the mornings, if he sees me in the shop. I'm looking forward to it. And this is why I do what I do.