Since Sierra moved out, she’s had to learn all kinds of things. Now technically we taught her these things, but she listened in that way we all listen to our moms when they are teaching us something — with the secret hope that our mom will just do it if we look engaged enough.

I hear you out there. You were probably one of those kids who was taught to do all kinds of things. I was too. But for me cooking was the one thing that never really sunk in until I was standing alone in my kitchen. There I was, facing the stove with all its knobs and a brand-new shiny pot, realizing I wasn’t really ready to fly solo with the power of fire. So, I picked up the phone and ordered pizza.

But a girl has to eat and eventually you realize you can’t afford to order out all the time. So, just like I did those many years ago, Sierra had to have her “facing the stove” moment. On her counter was a box of mac and cheese. And right in front of her the stove stood, snickering just a little. (Little known fact: all stoves snicker. And ovens? They are the WORST. They would roll their eyes if they had eyes.)

Of course, Sierra and I had been over the simplicity of cooking mac and cheese a million times. Her sister, Mireya, is a mac and cheese snob as well as a baker. But this was way outside Sierra’s comfort zone. This would be her first voyage, her initial adventure in the culinary arts, her first major multi-step recipe involving something other than the microwave.

She was doing really well. She got the water going. She read through the instructions. Then she came across something that she had never heard of, an ingredient so strange that she wasn’t sure if she had any of it in the house. So she called.

After explaining that she was cooking (at which point a tiny part of me gasped and jumped up and down), she asked about the mysterious ingredient.

“What’s margarine?” she asked, clearly feeling a little silly about the question.

“Margarine?” I was confused. “For what?”

“I’m making mac and cheese.”

“Whoa!” I exclaimed.

“I know.”

“Margarine is fake butter. You can use real butter.”

“Ahhh,” she replied. “I called somebody else and they couldn’t believe I didn’t know what it was.”

I laughed. Obviously I had been marginalizing margarine during their formative cooking years.

The good news is Sierra is now cooking — with butter. And even better, she decided to call me instead of just asking the internet. So while I can be sure there are thousands of other things I didn’t teach her, I made sure she did know how to ask for help, even when you feel silly about it.

Winter Prosapio is a writer, working mom and Corporate Director of Communications and Government Relations for Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts.

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