Yesterday as my daughter and I were walking through Crate and Barrel on our way out of the mall, a cherished childhood baking memory popped into my head. It was triggered by the sight of a hand-held sifter that looked just like the one my mom had when I was a little girl. I knew right away that I had to buy it and give my daughter the experience of making homemade popovers. I could see my daughter at our kitchen counter with her apron on, squeezing the sifter’s handle, and watching transfixed as the flour floated down from the sifter into the mixing bowl.
My enthusiasm for this popover adventure was contagious. My daughter skipped up to the register to tell the young woman what we were going to do when we got home. She told her that we needed to make some “testers” just to make sure that they would be good enough to take to next month’s Treehouse Tea.
We got home, washed our hands, and got out our ingredients. We pre-heated the oven and unwrapped our silver sifter. Naturally we needed four eggs and only had two, so I ran next door to borrow some. Then we began. The sifting experience was just as I had seen it in my mind’s eye. There is something magical about putting plain old flour in a sifter and watching it transform. My mom used to call it “fairy dust”. The smile on my daughter’s face told me she loved the experience as much as I had when I was her age, baking in my mom’s California kitchen.
Taking treasured moments from my childhood and bringing them forward into the present has always given me immense pleasure. I love creating happy childhood memories for the kids in my life. I feel contentment when several generations come together to share our lives. It’s a win-win for us all. The experiences provide us with a bank of shared memories and cements the feeling of belonging.
Life is lived in relationships. We all need to belong. Every person needs someone in their life who lights up when they walk into the room. This is especially true for our children. I light up when I encounter people who believe in me and inspire me to be a better human being. I watch kids light up while they are grooming a horse and then again in that moment when they climb up into the saddle. I see it when they hold a gentle bunny in their arms and experience kindness and compassion in other realms of their lives. I know my children light up every time they see their Aunt Jeannie because they can count on goodness and love coming their way.
This is what every child who is removed from their home and placed in foster care deserves to experience. It is the foster care experience re-defined. All it requires is a commitment to re-write the recipe – a heart healthy recipe that promotes life-long family and community connections. An updated recipe that takes generous amounts of respect, compassion, and integrity and mixes them up with fresh perspectives, wholesome resources, and organic programming that is grown locally. When these critical ingredients are blended together, they will transform the lives of 800,000 children. Instead of being powerless, invisible, and stigmatized, they will be strong, healthy, and empowered. They will be capable of tapping into their full potential because we have rewritten the recipe.
We need to make doing the right thing for children who experience foster care the norm. We need to make doing the right thing for children in our backyards second nature. We need to get every potential baker in this country to make some “testers” and try them out in their communities so we can take re-defining to the next level and enhance every child’s reality. Imagine the goodness we will yield – sustainable goodness that positively impacts lives, communities, and future generations.