During the last few months, I’ve had a chance to interview Chef James Boyce from Huntsville a couple of times. He is the owner of Cotton Row, Commerce Kitchen and Pane e Vino, plus Galley and Garden in Birmingham. He’s very engaging and personable, and, of course, the food coming out of his kitchens is amazing.
During one of our discussions, he shared with me a passion he and wife Suzan share. She, too, is a trained chef, it should be noted. They are diligent about training their children (approximately 11 and 13 years of age) in table manners. He even called it a “Number 1 Priority” in their house. Those children know what each utensil is and how it is used. These parents have carefully educated them about all kinds of food and preparations from their early days. When they sit down for meals, they always have at least two courses, usually after an appetizer. The result is that they can take those children all over the world and enjoy a fine meal together. France and Greece were two of their recent destinations. The Boyce’s daughter has Celiac disease, so she has to completely avoid gluten. That, however, hasn’t slowed them down a bit. In fact, Boyce shared that 95% of the dishes served in his restaurants are gluten-free. Even at Pane e Vino — which is an Italian eatery on the ground floor of the Huntsville Museum of Art — pizza and pasta are readily available in gluten-free varieties. Lucky children, wouldn’t you say?
After that particular conversation, I was a little bit discouraged. I felt badly that Steve and I don’t insist as much as we could on proper table manners when the grands come to visit. We “might” just let a few elbows on the table slide from time to time, and we have been known to ignore the fact that someone is excitedly talking when they should be still chewing. We do gentle reminders, you understand. Perhaps we should be a little more focused. And the cuisine? Well, chicken fingers, fries dipped in catsup, pizza, spaghetti, mac and cheese and pancakes are Cousins Camp staples. I confess. We often default to what is easiest and what will actually be eaten. And, I’ll also confess to a smidgeon of bribery from time to time with such words as, “Let’s see how many compliments we can get from the servers” when we start to enter a restaurant. One time we even rewarded them with a dollar each to spend at Dollar Tree for every compliment, and they ended up with $3 to spend after that meal. I know. I know. But, it worked. You understand?
So, no, table manners and a highly developed culinary palate were not the top priorities in our home, nor are they now. But, what WERE our passions/priorities/emphases when our children were growing up? I believe they would tell you that we strongly emphasized getting a good education, which meant making good grades, attending school daily “unless you were bleeding or throwing up,” and sometimes those weren’t even adequate excuses. 🙂 We were in church every Sunday, and we passionately discussed God’s Word, sermons we’d heard, music that was sung. We stressed having dinner together at night WITHOUT the television on. And, yes, there were no pesky electronics to deal with “back in the olden days.” We encouraged them to develop friendships, and we OFTEN had their friends and ours at our house. We encouraged them to get part-time jobs as soon as they were old enough, figuring those would be strong motivators for going to college and staying to finish their degrees. Those were some of the things we (hopefully) instilled in our children.
Now, when we peek inside the homes our children have established with their spouses, we see OTHER passions being shared. In one, it’s sports, reading, math and kayaking. In another, it’s being outside, being involved in extracurricular activities and eating healthy. In yet another, it’s animals, farm life, daily chores, having lots of people over for meals and tea parties. In all of the homes, God is honored and church is a priority.
So, even though I completely admire Chef Boyce and the passions he and his wife have, I feel okay about the Pearson passions, too. There are, after all, many different giftings and talents to pass along in this world. How boring it would be if we were all the same. Right?
What about you? What passions did you instill in your children? What were/are the results?
Ephesians 6:4 — “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Hebrews 12:11 — “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
And, of course:
Proverbs 22:6 — “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”