1. We are awash in squash over here. I had ordered a half bushel of butternut squash from our CSA last fall, and we’d eaten our way through two-thirds of it before I hit a wall and we took a little break from it.
2. My 3-year-old son has had a nasty cold all week. Not bad enough to actually slow him down or induce long naps, but sufficient to meet his school’s criteria for “keep your snotty-nosed kid at home.” So yesterday afternoon we were looking for things to do, and I decided it was time to clean up the house a bit. (This is an Event. I Cook a lot, but I don’t Clean very often).
3. In addition to the nasty cold, my son has some sensory processing things going on. He loves the vacuum cleaner, and it turns out that vacuuming is a “heavy work” activity which improves the vestibular sense. So, for my son, vacuuming is therapeutic. Woohoo!
Yesterday morning, after we’d vacuumed nearly the whole house, we moved on to the little room at the top of our stairs which has housed squash for the last few months. It’s unheated, and if I keep the door closed the ambient temperature hovers around 55 degrees – perfect for squash storage (but a little chilly for ironing, the other major function of the room).
While we were cleaning out the closet room I noticed that some of the half-dozen remaining squash were starting to “go.” Not wanting to waste them, I decided to cook them and freeze the puree for later use. My son very helpfully carried the squash downstairs, one at a time (more heavy work!) and had great fun playing with them in the kitchen. When I cut open the squash, he noticed that the seeds and strings looked a lot like sea anemones (another of his favorite things). I scooped the seeds into a bowl and let him rub his hands in them for - still more - sensory input. (Note: I’m onto something here. The sensory potential of vegetables is completely ignored in “The Out-of-Sync Child has Fun”).
I put the squash in the oven to bake, and while my son napped I scraped the flesh into a bowl. Later, he had great fun helping me make the squash puree by pressing buttons on the food processor. We used some of the puree to make a “pumpkin” pie, and he enjoyed mixing all the ingredients together.
My point? My boy spent almost *all afternoon* playing with butternut squash in its various forms, and had a fine time doing so. This isn't anything new for him, though, as he has akways had a love for vegetables since all he sees mommy doing is cook (remember? I don't clean).
This morning, my son mentioned that a little boy in his class (we’ll call him Benjamin) had a nifty toy with him before school one day. Then he said “Take squash with us.” (We didn’t cook all of them– two specimens are still intact). I asked, Do you want to bring a squash to school to show it to Benjamin? He nodded yes. This was something of a milestone because up until now, he hasn’t really paid much attention to the other kids in his class, let alone wanting to share a squash with them. (Truthfully, I don’t know if he wanted to share the squash, as in “Isn’t this cool!” or show it off, as in “Nyah nyah, I have a squash and you don’t”). At any rate, Mommy got all choked up. My baby is becoming social!
(Aside: hubby just read a draft of this post and suggested that I play up the “milestone” aspect even more. It was a big, big thing that our little boy wanted to interact – in a positive way - with a kid at school).
So off we went this morning, my son proudly carrying his squash into school. As we walked through the doors, he began calling “Benjamin, Benjamin!” in a sweet, pleading voice. He was just sooo excited about the squash!
And where was Benjamin? With a group of five or six boys, clustered around somebody’s older brother who had brought in …a Nintendo DS.
Splat. No contest.