You have had a very challenging day with your six-year-old. You fantasize about running away from home; contemplate belatedly putting him up for adoption and how you will break this news to him ("This just isn't working out..."). This boy of yours - with eyes like your eyes, you have heard, your first and only born - giggles with sadistic glee each time he manages to get under your skin today, which is often but not without skill on his part, and you start to see a flicker of the teenager him, with his cool indifference to your pain.
Still, he is six and he does not like to see his mother crying, hopelessly tangled in a knot of
merging highways from four directions in the distant suburbs, a bitter reminder to her that the suburbs are the Devil's Lair, that the architects of these cement torture chambers deserve to traverse them in construction zones for eternity. It is not lost on either of them that their Bermuda Triangulation was precipitated by him screeching (yet again, she grinds her teeth) like an orangutan until she misses her exit. They are an hour late to meet friends, but thankfully they are forgiving friends. The mother reverts back to how she dealt with anger in her childhood: a seething, hissing figure, more radiator than person, glowering at her son as he happily skips with his friend and moves on.
He has not forgotten, though. He is tentative around her, certainly aware of their power imbalance. Finally back home, she has cooled off and he is seeking companionship from her after the deep freeze of their day together. He is missing his friend, his mother. She makes an overture: what should they make for dinner? "Something that I like to sneak on," he says, a hopeful sound in his voice. She knows that he likes to sneak on tofu and vegan cheese. After some negotiation and an only mildly awful trip to the grocery store, they settle on pasta with roasted vegetables and the breaded tofu nuggets that will broker the forgiveness deal between them.
He pours the marinade and swishes it over the tofu; he dips the cubes in the breading and gingerly places the coated pieces on a plate. She thanks him, perhaps too enthusiastically, but she is grateful for the opportunity. She sneaks glances at his little hands, still pudgy from toddlerhood but with fingers that are trying to be nimble and deft. He is proud of his work and trying and she loves him at moments like these more than she can ever express.
Breaded Tofu Nuggets of Forgiveness
1 pound firm tofu, drained and cubed
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1-inch piece of ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Place the tofu in a 9X9 pan and pour the marinade over it. Let it marinate for at least twenty minutes. Remove cubes and keep the marinade for future use.
1 cup nutritional yeast (the big flakes, not the powder, for goodness sake)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (gluten-free rice style worked well here)
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs found at natural foods store)
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Mix this together in a big bowl. Roll the tofu cubes around in this and place on a plate.
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Cook the nuggets in this, taking care to not crowd them, for five minutes, turning them to brown all over. Do this as many times as you need to until all the tofu is done. You may need to re-oil the pan.
Enjoy and forgive.