2019-11-09 - Hot Chocolate & Conversation


A family talk of hot chocolate

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat Nov 9 22:30:26 2019
Location: 2 East 5th Avenue - Penthouse

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A groan comes from the kitchen. "Trust Emma to have the best hot cocoa in the world … but it requires either being some kind of master chef, or mastering some alien hyperdynamics machine." Then a solid thump, as a head hits the fridge door. Hard.

Priscilla is feeling frustrated, at the moment.

Catseye hears the complaint and thud from the next room. Most people forget how good her hearing is, and normally she doesn't remind them. But this is her sister… and chocolate. She comes into the kitchen and gently headbumps Priscilla, the feline body language still instinctive even in smoothskin form. "Prissy kitten? Want Catseye to make some hot chocolate?" She starts getting out a small pot and the grater, not really waiting for an answer. And the good block chocolate, the chef cannot hide it from her nose, no matter how he tries!

As for Emma, she can't hear the thump as she exits her home office, but…she can feel that frustration clearly enough and reaches out towards the source of it with her mind. «Are you all right, Pris?» Done for the work day, and it only a couple hours after dinner, Emma comes down the spiral staircase and moves towards the kitchen and her daughter the second, unaware that daughter the first is there until she can see the room. "Hello, girls." Emma's dressed casually, in this case it means power suit sans jacket, and still coture of course.

Priscilla sighs and backs away to make room as Catseye appears and solves the problem. Then she just groans a bit as Emma arrives with concern. "Damnit. I just feel like a useless idiot again, that's all." Yeah. It's tiresome. But Pris has a lifetime of negative thinking about herself rather deeply imprinted, and no matter how much she knows her new family loves her and believes in her, she canot erase all of that as quickly as she would like.

"I didn't mean to interrupt everyone else. I just got back from another jaunt, and I was chilly. I thought I'd have some hot cocoa." Pris explains. "But naturally I'm too incompetent to figure out how to make it for myself, and my whole family has to rescue me."

Then Pris takes a deep breath. Then another, exhaling all of those negative thoughts and feelings. "Sorry. Just … really frustrated. It's not something I expected to be so hard. So, it caught me off-guard."

Catseye purrs reassuringly, "Hot -cocoa- and hot chocolate are different things. Hot chocolate so much better." She pours some milk into the pot, and starts to heat it. "Don't want milk to boil, hot enough to melt chocolate, yes. Not boil. Then grate LOTS of chocolate. And then more." Her tail loops with amusement and she sets to grating the chocolate. "Don't cook a lot. Learned couple-few things that were important. Make soup and grilled cheese. Make chili. Make hot chocolate. Bake chocolate chip cookies and brownies." Important to Catseye doesn't mean fancy… it means comfort food.

Emma hugs poor Pris, and shakes her head. "Priscilla, /I/ can barely make hot cocoa…nor hot chocolate…as well as Cat or Chef can, not even close. You're not an idiot for not having learned the how." A kiss to her daughter's cheek, and then she smiles. "So…we can /both/ learn from Cat together."

Nope, nothing negative in her emotions. And it really is true, Emma's an abysmal cook. Never bothered to learn beyond the 'keep self from starving' level, she's no great shakes at most domestic tasks, and only a fair driver.

She laughs softly at Cat's list of 'important things'. "And Sharon's quite competent in all of those, her brownies in particular are delicious."

"I don't even know how to do most of those." Pris offers honestly to Catseye. "Soup? I heat it from a can, often IN the can. Hot chocolate, I dump powder into milk, stir, microwave, stir again. Grilled cheese? No way. Charred briquettes. Gumbo, though. That, I learned." Yes. She did. New Orleans baby, here. "Four of my foster mothers insisted I try to learn. I can't bake worth a damn, though." She leans into Emma's hug and huffs out her frustration.

"The more I try to be a more complete person, the more crap I run into I don't understand, don't know how to do, don't even know where to begin with. It pisses me off." Priscilla offers. Honesty, no matter how negatively expressed. "And it just keeps … needling me. I'm sorry for grouching at everyone."

Catseye nods. "Is hard. Catseye failed a lot in learning. Instructions make /assumptions/. Leave things /out/." Her voice gets higher pitched, slightly nasally, and it's obvious she's mimicking someone. "Why would they have to write that down? Everyone knows how to do THAT." Her tail has bristled at the memory, and she lashes it a few times before it settles down again. Meanwhile, she dumps the grated chocolate into the milk, adds a dash of vanilla, pinch of cinnamon, and some sugar as she stirs.

"But Catseye… isn't everyone. Catseye not know. Learned better by -watching- someone work, yes? Then by -doing-. Could -see- everything for self, rather than trying to pull missing steps out of thin air."

"Well, I can only say that I'm not even close to a domestic goddess, so most of those skills are pretty well beyond my current skillset save in the most basic of ways, about the only food or beverage I make well are mixed drinks, and I don't drink anymore." Emma says with a half smirk. It should be noted she's still hugging Pris, the girl clearly can use a hug or three, fortunately that's an easy thing to provide.

"Unfortunately, learning is not always a swift process, Pris." She pauses though, and looks thoughtful. "If you'd like, I /can/ imprint basic skills directly into your mind, I am hesitant to do this as it would be based on /my/ thought processes, and it might not take very well. Still, it could give you something to work from. AND as part of your training I could show you what I did and why, and /how/."

A scritch to Cat as she works on the hot delicious. "Perseverance is a skill that Sharon has definitely acquired in plenty. I cannot express in words how proud I am of her efforts." A smile then to Pris. "Don't be discouraged if your efforts don't pan out, they seldom DO immediately. It takes time, and repetition. Honestly, I'd like to get down and gritty into exactly what learning disabilities you have, that's biology -and- mental -and- your earlier experiences."

Priscilla exhales with a profound sigh. "I take it 'I'm just stupid' isn't a valid answer to this quiz?" she asks, with only mild bitterness. She knows it's not; Emma has explained it before. And a part of her does want to figure out what her issues are. That doesn't mean she's looking forward to tests. Tests were always a reason for ridicule for her in her life. It's a deeply inborn prejudice for her now.

"Let's not go imprinting anything just yet, Emma. If we can figure out how to make my dumb mind learn, let's do that, instead of trying to carve into it telepathically." Pris mentions. SHe really does have the smarts to realize, on an instinctive level, the dangers and downsides there. "We already know my screwed-up, half-alien brain is weird. Best to figure out more about it before we monkey it too heavily."

For now, Pris watches her sister make the hot chocolate with amazement. The scents of heated chocolate are pretty amazing too. "So. Any new school essays for you?" she asks.

Catseye says firmly, "Prissy Kitten not stupid. Does own choreography, yes? Chooses songs, matches movement to song for impact. Knows body, can modify if needed for injury. All takes intelligence, just different kind. Different not stupid." She gets a spoon and tastes the hot chocolate, adds some more milk, stirring it more, giving it time to warm up again, then pours it into three coffee mugs.

"Waiting to hear back about admissions. Nervous. Waiting is -hard-. But pouncing too soon ends up with empty belly. Learned how to wait when was a kitten." Catseye hands Pris and Emma their mugs. "If want, will teach PrisSister how to make grilled cheese. Can teach Catseye how to make gumbo."

"No, Priscilla, 'I'm just stupid' is not an acceptable answer, as it is inaccurate." And Emma's emotions are nothing but supportive. She really does understand. She does not APPROVE, but she understands is just as determined to be patient as she is to help her daughter fix things. Luckily there's no way to fail these tests, they are in fact crucial to the solutions.

She nods. "All of which reasons are why I hesitated, Pris. I wanted you to know the option was there. If things get desperate we can unshelve this option." She warmly approves of Pris's caution.

Cat's support? She very VERY strongly approves of, both girls can feel it. Also her delight in the hot chocolate given over! Emma loves her some chocolate, seldom indulges, always a treat.

"Sharon? I think that would be splendid." The learning exchange. "And I have every faith that you'll get one of the college apps." It isn't like Emma has any education contacts or anything. Hardly likely.

Before taking the chocolate offered, Priscilla embraces Catseye, hugging her firmly. "Thank you. I'm sorry to have to make you do this for me. But I appreciate it. And remember: you're amazing. They would all be lucky to have you, and if they're too dumb to realize that, we'll show them." That said, she accepts the hot chocolate, and then takes a sip. "Wow. I was right: that's absolutely amazing." Then a wink. "And sure. We can teach each other. That would be fun. I will warn you: good gumbo takes a long time."

Pris nods to accept Emma's wisdom and advice, unduly pleased that her 'mother' agrees with her point and concerns. "OK. So, we set up times for tests. And I do a lot of meditation to stay calm enough not to freak out." Yeah. She hates tests. This is not new.

Catseye nods. "Meditation is useful. But tests MotherMotherFrost doing, is not about pass or fail, is…" She pauses, trying to wrap words around experience… "Some math problems, are multiple ways to solve. HOW Priscilla tries to solve shows how PrisSister was taught to do problem. Is not right or wrong, just what was taught. But math, there sometimes three, four, five ways to solve same problem. All give right answer, yes? School is STUPID. Wants everyone do problem same way, same steps to make easy for TEACHER. If all do same steps, easier to grade papers." Catseye is obviously disdainful of such a motivation. "But not everyone THINKS the same.. brain thoughts shaped different, yes? Easy for one person, hard for someone else, impossible for a third. MotherMotherFrost is -great- teacher. Once figures out -how- PrisSister thinks, can figure out how best to learn. Will not be way school tried to teach, but that is ok!"

"Sharon is very fond of doing things for other people." People she likes anyway. "And I am frankly perfectly willing to have her indulge us so we can /all/ enjoy the fruits of her labors." Emma smiles. "Family." And that's all there is to that. As to Cat's school apps - if Emma's contacts aren't willing to talk to her, since the Hellfire Academy /was/ busted for being a terrorist front, well, there's always blackmail. She'll see how things go and will intervene only if she must and with the minimum fuss she can manage.

She will NOT tolerate Cat being discriminated against, however.

A firm nod. "So we setup times for the testing and you meditate to get centered."

She sips her hot chocolate, and shares her enjoyment with both her daughters. "As Sharon said, every mind is unique in how it processes information and learns. Once we find how yours does, Pris, we'll be well on the way to getting you the skills training and education you need. And you need not ever go to school, if you do not wish to. I'm licensed to teach. In short…you'll have /actual/ diplomas someday even if you find that regular schooling isn't for you."

Priscilla makes a face. "I'm not very good at math." Then again, Pris is not good at most things surrounding standard educational paths. The testing done so far - limited as it may have been - has confirmed that she suffers from a particularly strong case of dyslexia, and if she can't keep the stupid numbers from dancing and twisting themselves around on the page, she certainly cannot keep them straight to add them, subtract them, multiply or divide them. "I never quite got to the point of realizing there could be more than one way to do a problem." But she knows Sharon would not lie to her, so she has to assume this is true, however mysterious.

"I know it has to be frustrating, the way I act. But you two are so damned brilliant, I just feel hopeless about it." Pris explains. She gives Sharon's hand a squeeze, and then Emma's forearm. "I appreciate the support, and the effort. I just find it hard to imagine that there could ever be anything better." But she sips the hot chocolate, and gives a nearly purr-like moan of pleasure. "Damn, that's good. Thank you, Catseye." Truth is, Pris can probably learn to cook better by watching someone else cook; she watches dance steps and learns them almost effortlessly. It may not be quite so easy with cooking, but it likely would be a lot easier than following a written recipe.

Catseye purrs soothingly. "Sometimes one way is easier than other… like they tell teacher says add four hundred ninety nine and four hundred ninety nine… could do all the add nines, carry ones, that stuff. But other way, think of it as money. Would be one penny less than five dollars, twice. So two pennies less than ten dollars. Nine Ninety Eight." She figures giving Priscilla a problem that is practical, doing in her head will work better. Catseye finds math easier in her head, writing down symbols and numbers is meh! Easier to picture and pounce… or in Priscilla's case, spend.

"And Catseye has problems of own… mind works differently. If writing, can take time, use grammar checker, beat things into shape. But talking? Talk way Catseye thinks, or have to talk very slowly. Either way, Catseye sounds dumb." Catseye also cooks by scent and taste more than measure, so thinks that might work for teaching Pris to cook some things. At least most of the things Catseye knows how to cook.

"I'll let Chef know that you would like to observe and help from time to time, Pris. His sous chef actually taught for a time, so perhaps you might talk to her as well. I'll explain that you have very little experience to work from." And she'll make it abundantly clear that they'll know it is important to her for Pris to be comfortable with the training, and how disappointed she'd be if they were to discourage her daughter. "In fact I'll let them know that both of you might be around from time to time."

Emma sends a soft little mind-purr as she drinks her hot chocolate.

"Now…depending on the problems, there's solutions. For example, there's a learning condition in which letters and numbers get all jumbled up when you try to read them, is that what you're experiencing, Pris? If so, there's things we can do - even a simple change like altering the font used in your books, or e-reader to one of several alternates, can make a very big difference with a relatively simple change."

Priscilla listens to Catseye and nods, understanding that she thinks differently; she can 'hear' and 'see' those differences every time they are together, and rather likes those differences. "I rather like the way you think, Catseye. Always have."

Pris glances at Emma and waits, mulling it over. It's true, what Emma explains. But she can't help wondering what it will feel like to admit the truth. Her solution is simple: she trusts Emma. She may be wrong, but she trusts Emma. "I always called it swimming. But yes. That's what happens. Letters. Numbers. Doesn't matter. They swim around."

Catseye is purring mentally as well as faintly outloud. She's content, has hot chocolate, has family. "PrisSister likes… but many people, different is wrong or stupid. Is stupid way to think. Everyone same, first obstacle to beat one, beats all, mankind dead. Differences make the whole stronger."

"Sharon is unique." Emma agrees, and the emotional overlay to that is a very positive, accepting and approving one. "There have been countless times when her unique perspective opened up new vistas for me." Emma underscores this with scritches by Cat's ears.

She waits patiently for Pris to mull things over, and then nods. "Right then. So, first we'll get you a good e-reader, and we'll customize it to always uses fonts and zoom that will make reading easier for you." A smile. "The condition your 'swimming', is called Dyslexia, and it is VERY common. A person with Dyslexia is said to be Dyslexic." Emma smiles, and leaves it at that for now. Let Pris have some small success, even a tiny one and she'll hopefully perk up and realize it isn't hopeless!

"Most people are dumb, Sharon. Dumb, and inconsiderate - or outright cruel. Flexibility is /crucial/, differences are NOT bad."

Priscilla slides an arm around her sister and hugs her firmly. She needs no words to express how awesome she thinks Catseye is, and her opinion of judgemental folks is well known in this household already.

"eReader, hunh? OK. We can give that a try." Pris offers Emma, a mite uncertainly. She has found reading the supposedly intelligent phones and the like actually harder than paper books or newspapers, so she's naturally dreading this. But she will keep the faith and give it all a try. All because she has faith most of all in Emma and Catseye.

They are a rather special family, bound not by blood, but by spirit and mutual needs. It's not a bad thing at all.

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