By Sichun Xia, staff writer

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who dreamed of becoming a chef. Upon hearing about this dream, her parents were both surprised and upset. Her mother said to her, “My dear, do you mean you want to be a baker because you like desserts?” 

“No, mom, I want to be a chef; I want to make pizza, make pasta, fry steak, and of course, make desserts, like tiramisu!” The girl was full of pride. The girl’s dad said with discontent, “This dream won’t bring happiness to yourself or others.” 

“No, food makes people happy, and I’m the one who makes everyone happy, and what a great dream that is! Besides, how can anyone not like someone who can cook? I just love them so much! Mom and Dad sure love me too!” the little girl replied, still optimistic.

Her mom and dad sighed, thinking the little girl’s dream was childish and immature: “When she grows up, she’ll understand…  “Surely she will,” they agreed as they exchanged glances.

However, they found that the little girl fell madly in love with cooking. She always made breakfast before her parents were up, cooked some novel dishes for her friends at noon, and made dinner before they came home from work. Every day was a different dish. Dad said to Mom, “This can’t go on. We have to find a way to stop her.”

The next morning, the little girl cracked the eggs into the pot before she realized the spatula was missing. So she took a spoon and broke the eggs, turning the fried egg into a scrambled egg. Then she used chopsticks to fry three sausages. At breakfast, the little girl said to her parents with a sorry face: “I’m sorry I lost the spatula. I’ll buy a new one with my allowance. Do the eggs taste good this way?” The parents nodded helplessly because it really tasted good.

On the third morning, the little girl enters the kitchen and finds that all the cooking utensils are gone. When her parents got up, they were satisfied that there was no breakfast on the table as usual, and just as they were hugging each other because they thought the little girl had finally given up her dream of becoming a chef, she came into the living room with two plates full of food in her hands. She first apologized for not having breakfast ready on time and then expressed her concern about the repeated loss of things in the house. 

“So, how did you make all this food?” Dad frowned at the two plates in the girl’s hands. The girl’s face instantly filled with joy, “I went to ask my neighbors and borrowed their kitchen. In return, I made breakfast for their family, and they all said my breakfast was delicious, they were so happy and invited me to come to their house more often!” Dad and mom looked at each other and sighed again.

Afterward, sometimes the salt and sugar boxes were switched, sometimes the ingredients she bought the day before were missing, and sometimes the power supply on the stove wouldn’t turn on. But the little girl always diagnosed and solved the problem in time. She realized that all these “issues” were created by her parents intentionally to dim her dream of becoming a chef, but she felt motivated again when she saw their happy faces as they ate the food she made.

After a month or so, her parents finally gave up. They couldn’t understand why the girl was so persistent, and no matter how much they got in the way, she always looked very happy when they ate her food.

Suddenly, a few months later, when the parents came home from work, they found the dining table empty. The little girl wasn’t home either. They felt a little lost but thought it was worth it to have succeeded in stopping their daughter’s crazy dream. However, the girl did not return home. When her parents found her, she was sitting by the river, crying. After hearing the girl cry, she never wanted to cook again, her mom and dad were very happy. 

Mom said, “It’s okay if this dream is gone. You can have a better dream!” 

“Yes, a bigger dream!” Dad echoed. 

Mom took the girl’s hand and stroked it, saying, “Look at all the scars on your hands from cooking. You gave up because it hurt too much, right?” 

Dad stood to the side and said, “It must be because the boy you like doesn’t like your dream. It’s okay, you still have plenty of wishes left!” The girl, however, kept shaking her head, and her mother and father had no choice but to ask her exactly why she was crying. 

The girl replied, “So many people don’t want to come home for lunch anymore. Some say my cakes make them gain weight, and some say the fried chicken I make is too greasy and not conducive to their fitness. They say my cooking only makes them miserable and brings guilt, and they never feel happy!”

The girl stood up and ran while crying. Finally, she collapsed in the grass from exhaustion.

“How I wish, how I wish my dishes were making you happy.”