Siena Exploded the Microwave

This is what happens when you don't have a microwave for a year, and neglect to re-instruct your child on the finer points of using this radioactive box of energy.

She may well explode your microwave.

She didn't mean to. But really, who means to explode a microwave?

Our microwave is admittedly not immediately user-friendly, since it has a toaster on the side, so it includes buttons and dials for both units on one panel. Siena put bread in the toaster, and remembering that I had told her "EZ On" heated for a minute, she pressed that, rather than using the toaster buttons. Which meant the microwave was empty and on. Thirty seconds in she started to yell that the microwave was acting scary, and by the time the buzzer dinged, the display was blinking like an irate C3-PO and a fire had broken out inside the case.

It's melted, and ruined.

In a word—exploded.

And strangely, I find myself not caring.

I went a year without a microwave and I got used to it. And frankly, paranoid as this may sound, the fire out of nothing in my microwave made the dangers of radiation suddenly seem real. If you ask me how the fire broke out, or even how a microwave heats, I'd be stumped. Any ideas I have would have sound awfully post-apocalyptic. And I'm all of a sudden a little leery of heating my food with technology that I don't understand at all. The direct heat of a toaster oven seems much more friendly.

But then I picked up Nicolas from his friend's house, and maybe he was too tired to think straight (it was after all, close to noon, and he'd just woken up), but he developed quite the attitude about our decision to not replace the microwave. Dismissed my concerns of glow-in-the-dark cancer with annoyance. I know I can be an idiot and I know I can be alarmist, but I really liked it better when I could tell my child that winged monkeys hung the moon and he'd hug me with joy at the news.

Besides insisting that microwaves are safe (based on nothing but willfulness, he's written no meta-analysis on the subject), he is adamant that microwaves are more convenient. To support this argument, he tells me that he's heated his own food more in the last 2 weeks than he had in the last year. Because he doesn't want to heat food in a pan. He often doesn't know how, it takes too long, and it creates more to wash.

This is all true, and yet I am unmoved. If we are not spending time preparing the food we eat to nourish our bodies, what are we spending time on? So much about our lives is directed by what's convenient. It's become the height of priority. We reduce all sorts of tasks—communication, cooking, connecting—to the most convenient version, and then find we aren't really engaged with any of the aspects of our life that we thought were important.

It reminds me of an episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution that I watched recently. Jamie creates a menu for elementary school students, and a ruckus ensues around the fact that his food requires a knife and fork. Previously, all the food was hand-held, or used a spoon. Jamie was stunned, and asked what are they teaching these children if they only ever gave them food that was easy to eat with one's hands. I had never thought of this before, and have started giving Gabe a knife at mealtimes. He's now drunk with his own power.

Yes, it required a teaching moment. And probably several moving forward. But that's work that underscores what I value—competency around the table, alertness to what we're eating, focusing on each bite.

Taking time for what we value, rather than striving towards convenience is something I believe in. And so yes, it will take me longer to reheat leftovers. And every time I'm staring in my refrigerator wondering how to repurpose what I have rather than sticking them in the microwave, I'll be connecting with what I'm doing. I can't do it mindlessly—it will take intention. That's my choice. It's not for everyone, but that's okay.

Nicolas, as may be expected, is disgusted with the whole affair.

Which I understand, he's 14 after all, but I'm adamant. And frankly, on the look-out for more ways we habitually opt for what is easy or convenient, instead of striving for actually spending quality time with what we value. I don't want to live to save time, I want to live to live. And do what I value. By saving time, we dilute it. I'd rather take more time and make a chouquette.

Siena exploded the microwave. And maybe it was about time.