Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Baker Speaks

So.....after all the angst of coming up with the speech . . .. . .the 'lightbulb moments' . . . there was then the anxiety of ***gasp*** giving the speech. The single question that arose most often was "What am I going to wear?" Not "Who's going to leave school to come hear me talk?" Not even, "Is anyone telling the anonymous Mr. Baker-Recipient what this speech is about?" Nope, "What am I going to wear?" So, thinking ahead....way ahead.... on the day before PPP entered intense conversations with the Sophisticate who is our style MAVEN (look that one up, minions), who decreed that PPP has nothing in her closet worth wearing. PPP leans toward jeans, tees, and sweatshirts, and variations thereof. Roughly 12 hours pre-speech, she made a trip to raid the Sophisticate's closet, and came back satisfactorily wardrobed, then did another few hundred hours of homework, then fell asleep.
NO evidence of morning nerves...from her. I had an unsettling night of weird dreams, and night sweats. Also, I chewed off all my carefully applied lipstick before we got there. Oh, yeah, this is about her, not me. Sorry.Our Young Son and I arrived early and I had the day's first "OH NO!" moment. (OK, it wasn't really "Oh NO!" It was "Oh $#*!) "Oh, NO! I forgot flowers. PPP is speaking from the pulpit of this church, and I forgot flowers. Wonder if I can get some here in roughly 10 minutes. What was I thinking? Do I know a florist who will do that for me, like NOW? My mother will kill me, we should have done flowers..." eventually I started babbling that refrain..."We should mother will kill..." Our Young Son doesn't get mired down in nonsense like flowers, so he opened the door and shoved me in, holding my Diet Coke while I dug around in the depths of my bag for some more lipstick.The church was empty. I had to breathe deeply there - overwhelmed by the thought of her standing at the end of this aisle and walking to graduate in a mere 6 months. (What's she going to wear THAT day? Very big question.) There are many, many moments in this church for PPP this year. And yet, she sits in that very space every day, listening to her peers, her teachers, guest speakers. Laughing, giggling, talking, bored or intrigued. Daily. There is something that seems very right about that. This morning, it just seemed grand and empty. And it smelled like lilies.
There were lilies on the altar already. If I had remembered flowers for PPP's senior speech, they would have been lilies. What flower fairy put them there? The FUNERAL flower fairy. Ooops. Seriously? I'm not even going down the path of "How lucky am I that the flowers were there because of a funeral later that day" because that would assume that I was basing my good fortune on another's grief. But still. You have to admit, I was pretty lucky.
Her friends gathered. Neighbor Bob joined us, as did KP - both from other schools. Bob's Mom made an unexpected appearance, thank you.
A great reason to miss a morning of school. Just ask our Young Son. PPP and her friend Stargazer practiced walking around in their heels on the altar of the empty church, as the church filled with young women. I didn't see many others wearing a dress and heels, though I did see a whole bunch in sweatshirts, so I guess PPP's style is appropriate to her world.
Then, it was chapel. The first hymn. I see the little hint of nerves in the white knuckles. Also the fact that I couldn't focus the camera.Suddenly, Stargazer was introducing with a witty story about freshman year, and then...

. . . we were full-on into the stories about PPP's baking disasters and the many life lessons she has learned:
"I LOVE to bake. So much, in fact, that I have websites called “smitten kitchen” and “bakerella” on my favorites. I have had some magnificent products, some good products, some bad products, and well, quite frankly, some real disasters.

One of these not so successful attempts was when I was making a friend an apple pie. Now, I had never made apple pie before, and I was determined to make it all from scratch. It was all going well until I got to the lattice --- that little crisscross stuff that lies on top of an apple pie and makes it look like it came straight from the farmhouse kitchen. It is a lot harder than it looks to weave dough together and make it look pretty. Also, it was around Easter so I decided that I wanted to get fancy and make a little bit of Easter egg detail to go in the center. Since the dough all browned nicely, the eggs ended up looking like random brown globs of crust hanging in the center of my lovely pie. Let’s just say it was not my most beautiful creation. Despite its unattractive appearance, I still hear about how delicious it was, and that was six months ago.

Don’t even get me started on burning things, there have been plenty of those, let me tell you. Despite the things in life that have turned out badly, if you think about it, there are so many good things in life that are sometimes looked over. Even though things may not turn out the way we want them to, and even though they may not turn out looking very pretty, you can always figure out a way to work things out.

One of the most important things I have learned in life is to not be afraid to ask for help. We can’t do everything on our own, and life is a lot easier if you let people help you when you need it. Another catastrophe I have had in the kitchen was my attempt at making a cake for a friend. Against my better judgment, I used a box mix. When I took the cake out of the pan to cool, to my utter astonishment and dismay, it fell apart in my hands. We are not talking breaking in half here, we are talking about six or seven different pieces. My friend was on his way over to my house to pick up his cake that I had promised him and I was panicking. I rushed to my mother after I had gotten all of the pieces safely on a cookie sheet, and explained what had happened. She, being the genius that she is, came to my rescue she showed me how to glue my cake back together with icing. That would be another example of one of my not so beautiful creations. I still hear about that one, too, with the ever so sweet comment “hey Princess, when are you going to make me a dessert that actually looks good?” And that was three years ago.

Another thing I have learned is that you have to stick up for what is yours. When I bake things for my friends, I have to guard the goodies fiercely from my family, or else every crumb will be gone the moment I turn my back. Just so you know, I wouldn’t recommend putting a post-it note that says “FOR the Princess, DON’T EAT” on the top. That usually makes them want to eat whatever it is just to spite you.

However, don’t keep everything all to yourself. If you have something great, share it with people, let them enjoy it too. Who cares if the gooey pecan pie you made for Thanksgiving dinner is eaten before the turkey even comes out of the oven? Share your talents with others. If you’re good at baking, make some one brownies when they are having a hard time. People really do appreciate small things like homemade cookies. Even if you can’t make homemade baked goods, you have to make do with what you have. You can achieve a lot more than you make think you can. Do your best, and even if it doesn’t turn out the way you want it to, the effort and the thought go a long way. Something good comes out of everything, sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper than you want to to find it." Then it was over. The rest of chapel was a little bit lighter for PPP, whose regret was that she started talking too fast.
She was quite relieved and delighted, because it was done, and done well. She was a ROCK STAR all day. And I was quite relieved and delighted that she was comfortable with herself and what she had to say. Glad that her friends came to hear it. Glad that the Flower Fairy visited with PPP's faves.
We didn't have to dig very deep or look very hard for the good things on Senior Speech Day. All of her stories were real, all of her lessons are ones she has indeed learned right in our kitchen, many the hard way. She told us exactly who she is and how she manages her world with clarity and grace, and the delight she has when she shares her passion. And the flowers? "Something good comes out of everything."


Anonymous said...

Wow! What a fabulous speech!! That is for certain a "proud Mama Moment!" Good Job Mom and good job PPP! :)

Anonymous said...

You must be proud that you did the best you could with what you were given--a precious daughter named PPP! Tell her for me how right she is about giving a gift of baking for someone. Not many people cook at home any more--much less bake. So a gift of brownies goes a looong way toward making someone feel better.

Thanks for commenting on the sunflower post. Wasn't that amazing?


kikibibi said...

Congratulations to PPP! Thanks for sharing the speech.

p.s. I have bakerella and Smitten on my favs too!