Pulling Shots & Raising Children

If you don’t know by now that I love coffee, you must not be paying attention.  I love coffee so much, I seem to find connections to it in the strangest of places, like raising children.

Every morning when I get up, I slowly and sleepily make my way to my espresso machine, the piece of equipment I would trade almost anything else (non-living, obviously) in my house for. It is a semi-automatic espresso machine with a built in bean grinder.  Semi-automatic means I still have room for error; I don’t just press a button like you might on a Keurig and, poof, coffee.  It is a process. It takes more than just having a good machine and good beans.  You have to grind the beans fine enough for espresso, and that setting has to be adjusted if you get different beans or even on humid days.  Then, what I found most difficult when I first started learning to pull espresso, is tamping.  Tamping is applying the proper amount of pressure to your ground coffee beans; too light and your shot will be under extracted but too much pressure will cause your shot to be over extracted.  Getting the tamp wrong can make great beans taste bitter or completely void of the rich notes they would’ve conveyed otherwise. Once you’ve got your beans ground and tamped, you actually pull your shots.  I say shots because I always make a double-shot for my latte, because, well, why not?  Of course all that comes after steaming my milk for said latte. It only takes a couple of minutes, but you have to help it along the way.

I recently had these beans that were a great quality and I swear I did everything correctly, but still my shots were under extracted and bitter.  It was very frustrating.  After many trial and error shots, I finally got a drinkable shot by grinding finer and adding more than I previously ever have.

Now let me get back to why raising kids is like pulling espresso shots, but hopefully you can already tell.  Just because some days your child is like a tiny demon, or a bitter shot of espresso, doesn’t mean you have a bad child.  The stars just didn’t align that day and maybe you have to dig a little deeper to see what it is that is making them a little demon.

Something I often forget as a parent is all the variables that might be affecting my kids’s behavior.  Some days instead of slowing down and trying to figure out what’s causing their bad behavior, I just want the bad behavior to stop without taking those extra steps and without investigating, which is obviously wrong.  I did’t just learn to drink bitter coffee or think that it would magically start tasting better without any effort, so I am not going to learn to live with bad behavior from my children or just think they’ll grow out of it.  If what I am doing isn’t working, I do something differently until what I am doing is working.

When nothing works, I make an extra cup of coffee and let it seep into my soul until a decent idea pops into my head.  Almost all of my good ideas are brought to life by coffee and I’m okay with that.

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