A couple of days ago, Son16 was making some Easy Mac. Now before you assume that we only feed our kids prepackaged foods that can be cooked in the microwave, let me reassure you that is not the case. We feed them honest-to-goodness real cooked food once a week whether they need it or not!
But on this particular day, it was every person for himself and Son16 grabbed two packages of the Easy Mac Big Packs.
Now let's establish a few of the necessary background features for this story. First of all, we've never had the Big Packs before, only the 'regular' size packs. Secondly, you may recall, Son16 is diagnosed with multiple special needs - among those is obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorder.
Those two pieces of information help explain why he was totally unsure how to combine two packages and still have it turn out right. So he asked for help. I showed him the instructions for one pack, explained he would just double the amount of water, milk and butter, and he would end up with macaroni and cheese, just like with the regular packs.
And I observed as he so very carefully got out measuring spoons and measuring cups to begin the process. I commented that he probably didn't need to be that precise in his measurements, that an estimate would probably be good enough.
His eyes bulged to the size of softballs as he considered the imprecision of that pathway. "No dad, that would just wreck my noodles!" he informed me.
As he started to measure the 1 and 1/4 cups of water - yes, with the 1 cup measuring cup and the 1/4 cup measuring cup - I suggested he either use the 1/4 cup and fill it five times or else use the 1 cup and just estimate the 1/4 amount.
"What are you talking about?!?!"
"Look, Son16, watch this." And I proceeded to put in 1 cup of water and then estimate the 1/4 cup. He anxiously paced the kitchen telling me several times "You're wrecking my noodles!"
While the noodles did their thing in the microwave, I showed him how we would just cut a little chunk of butter and toss it in rather than measuring a precise tablespoon. I even mentioned that we would not actually measure the milk at all, but just pour in a bit, as needed, to get the consistency of the sauce he wanted.
As I began to demonstrate those things with the cooked noodles, he was getting two more packages from the box, certain of the fact my haphazard concoction would be inedible.
Somehow, in the midst of his repeated declarations that I was "wrecking his noodles" and while his whirlwind of pacing went on around me, I did manage to make macaroni and cheese using my freakishly bizarre method called 'estimating'. And I set it before him with the assurance that "your noodles are not wrecked".
He tasted it. He ate it. He told me it was 'okay'. But he assured me it would have been better if I had done it 'correctly'.
I'm not sure if the noodles would have been better. But his heart rate might have stayed in the normal range!