Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: STEW (11/26/15)
- TITLE: Snot Stew
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom
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Mom glared at Wrigley. “My day was great; thanks for asking.“
Kicking the table leg, Wrigley frowned. “Can’t you just answer my question?“
The timer dinged while Mom softly counted to ten. After pulling a dish from the oven and setting it on the counter, Mom turned to Wrigley. “You need to watch your attitude, and I made stew for dinner.“
“Yuck, it rhymes with poo.“
Mom reached over and cupped her hand under Wrigley’s chin. “Wrigley Grace Fieldings, you’re being rude, and I won’t tolerate it.“
“I’m sorry.“ Wrigley crossed her fingers. “It smells good.“
“Thank you. Dad and Camden will be late so, it’s just you and me for now.“ She ladled stew onto a plate and placed it in front of Wrigley.
Wrigley crinkled her nose and poked the little blobs of white goo. “Eww, that looks like snot.” She shoved the plate away and crossed her arms.
Mom glared at Wrigley as she raised her right eyebrow.
Squirming in her seat, Wrigley felt her face grow warm. She kicked the table harder, and stew sloshed over her plate. When Mom handed her the sponge, Wrigley started crying.
Tugging on Wrigley’s arm, Mom gently pulled her out of the chair and onto her lap. “So what’s bugging you?“
Wrigley shrugged her shoulders. “Nothing.”
“So you’ve been rude to me for no reason?“
“You were rude to me first!“
Mom’s jaw fell open. “Seriously, when?“
Wrigley wiped the snot and tears off her face. “Didn’t you and Daddy think kids would tease me when you picked such a weird name?“
Pulling the plate closer, Mom picked up a fork. “We did think about it, but growing up is a lot like stew. It takes all kinds.“ She stabbed a piece of beef. “I like to think of you and your brother as the meat. The protein is the star of the dish. You and Camden are definitely the highlights of my life. Of course, meat goes with potatoes. Daddy and I are the potatoes because we all go together, but also because potatoes have starch in them.“
Wrigley smiled. “I get it; when you iron, you use starch to make Daddy’s shirts firm.”
Chuckling, Mom nodded. “Okay I guess that works. It’s not quite the same starch, but we are firm because we love you and want you to be kind.“ Next, she speared carrots, onions, and celery. “These vegetables are like your third-grade classmates. Some add excitement like the carrots. Others are your best friends, just like celery is your favorite vegetable, but some are like onions.“
“Because peeling onions makes you cry?“
Wrigley pointed to the white globs. “Okay, what’s that?“
This time, Wrigley raised her eyebrows. “Jesus is the snot?“
Mom laughed. “First, it’s called tapioca. Look at it, and tell me what it does.“
Wrigley jiggled the stew. “Hey, it sticks to everything. Wherever I put the beef, the tapioca stays with it. Is that what you mean?“
“I didn’t think of that, but it’s a great point. The tapioca also thickens the stew; otherwise, it would be watery like soup. Jesus gives you thick skin so your feelings don’t get hurt. He protects you.”
Wrigley tasted the meat with the tapioca clinging to it. “Not bad. You know Mom, snot sticks to everything too, and it has a purpose. It helps filter out all the gunk we breathe in through our noses. It purifies the air. I’ve been mad all week because the kids teased me, but I never once thought about talking to you or praying and asking God to help me. You may not know this because you’re old, but if the mean kids don’t think the names bother me, they’ll stop calling me Chewing Gum and Lovable Loser.“
Mom looked at Wrigley. “Okay, I get the first one because of Wrigley’s Chewing Gum, but--“
“Seriously, Mom? The Cubs? Wrigley Field? Everyone calls them the lovable losers. Hmm, now that I think about it, those names aren’t horrible. The Cubs are lovable, just like me, and gum isn’t the worst thing in the world.”
Just then, Daddy and Camden came home. Sniffing, Daddy said, “What’s for dinner?“
Wrigley winked at Mommy. “Snot stew.“
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