By current standards, I would most definitely have been diagnosed as ADD or ADHD. While in my first nonprofit gig with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Arkansas years ago, I remember attending a workshop where I learned of the supposedly telltale physical signs of such afflictions: the way hair parts on the scalp and so forth. I instinctively never checked myself against the list, knowing I would be likely to find multiple occurrences.
Regardless, Mom wouldn’t have sought medication, she returned to the tactics she employed best as a classroom teacher of 5 – 7 year olds. Discipline. Repetition. Routines. Preparation.
And so when the time came to push my boundaries and force me to begin the long road to being a productive adult, Mom began with pistachio pudding. Obviously.
She summoned me to the kitchen, where I found a step stool, a large bowl, a measuring cup and a whisk along with a box of pistachio pudding. I was to a) carefully read the directions and b) follow them.
Naturally, I glanced at them and vaguely skimmed the directions, grabbed the milk, spilled it while pouring and was consequently stopped in my tracks. “Stop. Read the directions.” I weakly replied that I had. I was told to revisit them. I was told that I could not hold the measuring cup while pouring the milk, because I would tip it toward me and skew the measurement. I was told to set the measuring cup on the counter and then pour the milk.
I proceeded, and everything seemed really watery. The directions said it would be set and ready to eat in five minutes. I stared. It didn’t seem set.
Eventually, it turned out well and I had the pride of a lion tamer at my hand-crafted, unnaturally green dessert. It received rave reviews from my Dad and arched eyebrows plus rolled eyes from my Mom, albeit with pride twitching at the corners of her mouth.
I learned that I should probably prepare everything I’ll need for an adventure in advance. I learned that I should probably read and understand the directions, or my marching orders, thoroughly. I learned that the proper outcome sometimes requires a little time and patience, both of which I often lack.
Now, in the kitchen, I often hold a measuring glass up to eye level while pouring, and I feel guilty every time. Granted, I’ve also learned that many of my dishes and kitchen adventures (see ignoring the rules and my initial disclaimer for reference) often turn out alright even if the exact specifications are disregarded. However, I’ve also learned that in the kitchen, as in life, thorough preparation and reading of the instructions is always a good call. It is one thing to have no idea what you’re supposed to be doing, and another entirely to know and then blatantly disregard the directions.
And so, lesson number three: read the instructions, lay out all the necessary items and proceed slowly.