That's my daughter...and two dead fish.
You see, I was shopping the Thai Basil at Whole Foods when I looked to my right, and saw my daughter walk to the fish counter, stare at the selection, and then courageously order two whole trout. The guy behind the counter advised her to ask her mother. She was adamant.
I don't need to ask her. She's good with it. All good here. Now, please wrap my fish in that paper, and I will cook them.
I frowned, and walked over to her.
What are you ordering? I asked, a bit exasperated.
She looked sternly in my direction, placed her hands on her hips, and replied, I'm getting some fish. That kind. She points to the glass case, and two shiny fish, awash in ice, glistening under the lights. Oh, please, mama! Please. I just want to have fish. Can't we? Yes, yes we can. They are lovely and right here. Right here. He'll put them in paper, and we can bake them!
Honestly, I haven't any notion of how she came to this. I'm not entirely certain my daughter has ever eaten fish, and certainly she's never prepared one. Still, her beaming face...the stare of the man holding the brown butcher paper behind the counter...and the fish with their glassy looking eyes...
I relented. Okay. Okay. But I've not cooked a fish in more than ten years. I'm not even sure I'd know how any longer...
She clasped her hands together, and gleefully ordered the man to get her fish. Those two, right there! We'll take them. And don't worry, mama, I will know what to do.
I was not reassured. Nor was I assuaged to hear the man behind the counter affirm that she'd made a good choice. They are well priced and quite fresh. She knows her fish.
My delighted daughter took her two wrapped fish, and walked through Whole Foods with them nestled in her arms. She told every person she met that she was having fish for supper. I'm making fish tonight. I'm going to eat these two beautiful fish for my dinner!
The thing I perhaps love best about my daughter is that brand of confidence. She is fearless, determined. She knows what she wants, and she isn't afraid to assert herself to get it. That is why I, a dedicated vegan who isn't even wholly convinced that a person should eat fish for any reason at all, is massaging garlic and olive oil into the flesh of a dead trout. It wasn't her enthusiasm to try something new, or her sales job to obtain it. It was that the decision was made without me. I was merely a passenger to her adventure.
The balance of parenting can be found in embracing the moment, even in the context of the mundane: dinner, shopping. My daughter knows that her voice matters, and had I pushed forward with my preference, I would have squashed some part of that independence.
So, here I am. A vegan. Baking fish. I hope she likes it.