She was waiting at the door when he came home. He expected her to be upset, like his teacher had been when she told him that she was going to email his mother.
Instead his mother gave him a hug and they went into the kitchen. On the table was a recipe and the ingredients for a loaf of bread.
She went down the recipe list, asking him to taste each ingredient. When he said that he liked the ingredient she left it on the list. When she he said it was “meh” she left it on the list. When he said it was “YUCK” she crossed it off.
In the end the bread was made with no yeast and no oil.
He was excited! They had never made bread this way before. It would be the best bread that they had ever made without the yucky stuff that they usually put in.
They mixed and they stirred and they covered the dough to let it sit. When they came back he was confused, the dough had not puffed up the way it always did. They kneaded it again and it stuck to their hands and pulled apart.
“That’s okay.” said his mother, and she showed him how to scrape the dough into the bread pan. They put it in the oven and waited for it to bake.
It did not smell like bread. It did not smell good at all. And when the timer went off it came out flat and dark and hard and it would not come out of the bread pan. It was not bread, it was a brick!
His mother watched him quietly. “What do you think happened?” she asked. He didn’t know what to say.
“Well we didn’t put the yucky stuff in. Just the stuff that was okay and the stuff that I liked.”
“Sometimes we can’t understand why something yucky is needed to make something that we like, so we leave it out. We make our bread without the yeast and without the oil. Son. Right now you are baking your bread without the yeast and without the oil. When you do only the things that you like in school and not all of the other things, you are baking bread that will not rise.”
He looked at her and thought.
“If you don’t understand why something is necessary, you can ask me. But if you simply choose not to include the ingredients that you do not like or see the meaning of.. Your bread will not turn out the way you want it to.”
The next day in school he opened his lunch box and there were two slices of bread. One that was dense delicious. The other was hard and burned. There was no note. There did not need to be. He understood.