Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's the Journey

I'm all about the results. The final product. The destination. It's usually only after I've got the results that I can then look back on the journey. And only if the results are good do I feel good about the journey.

My son brought home to me how short-sighted, how...unjoyous...this type of approach is.

Creepy Incredible Edibles. Note the
kids on the box having a blast. The liars.
Recently he saw a commercial for Creepy Incredible Edibles. In the ad, the kids are mixing these concontions then "daring to eat or drink" them. Things like Bio Brains and Green Goo and Gummy Body Parts. And they're having a blast doing so.
His excitement -- his sense of wonder, and of the possibilities -- was contagious. He's been a really good listener lately. So I found myself agreeing to bring him to the store to buy these incredible edibles. I paid for half, and he paid for half with his own money. We brought the box home and he made the easy stuff first, the stuff that didn't require equipment that needs assembly. Stuff that only needed measuring some water and mixing with packets of powder. At first it was fun. The Fizzy Drink changed color like it was supposed to. It fizzed  up just as it was supposed to. But then came the time to drink it. And my son took a sip. Then had to hold back the barf. And the disappointment. It tasted terrible.

We made everything else in this box. And each one tasted awful. And after each one, the disillusionment on my son's face grew. I became obsessed with getting the measurements perfect, the process letter-perfect, the timing exactly right. Hoping against hope that if we just did it correctly, that this would magically make the conconctions taste good. And remove the look of utter disenchantment from my son's face.

Until we finally made a Gummy finger. He became so scared to do any of the steps himself, for fear of doing it wrong. So I took over. And of course it still came out tasting like crap, at which point, he promptly burst into tears. Sad and feeling bad, I asked him what was making him cry. Was it because they tasted bad and he'd been thinking they would taste good, based on the reaction of the kids in the commercial?



He was crying because making them wasn't fun.



I washed all the equipment. Then, I suggested that he make the next batches himself.

"What if I do it wrong?" he asked.

Oh. Another stab of pain.

There is no wrong, I told him. You just do it and have fun. You're free to do whatever you want with them. Make whatever you want.

"Okay," he said. "But throw away the instructions."