Friday, March 1, 2013

Bribery And Cooking With Kids

The antennae truly are necessary for cooking dinner

Sunday afternoon my kids were in rare form.  Apparently our Lenten fast against excess media is taking its toll on them because they were lamenting not being able to play a computer game called Minecraft that Hubby introduced them the week before Lent started.

"I would do anything to be able to play Minecraft," Lizzy commented.

"Fine.  Go make dinner and then you can play," I replied saucily, figuring there was no way she'd go for it.

"Almost anything."

But then she and David started talking about if they could actually make dinner.  Did they have enough knowledge between the two of them to pull off a meal.  And then they turned to their five-year-old baby sister and asked her for help.  Yes, you read that right.  I'm not sure if I should be proud of Joy in this moment or shamefully humiliated at my failure to instill cooking skills into my older kids.  But I regress.

"Joy, will you help us make dinner so we can play Minecraft?" They begged her.


Thus ensued a lengthy discussion on what they would make for dinner and how they would make it.  They decided on a menu of hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, carrot and red pepper slices, and a salad.  I let them have at it with only minimal direction given from me (things like the correct quantity of milk necessary to make macaroni and cheese).

You would think that my kids had discovered a cure for cancer the way they carried on while making dinner.  I've never seen three prouder people when my kids set the table with their culinary offerings.  The hot dogs were a little over boiled, the macaroni was a bit...unstirred, the pepper slices were uneven and un-uniform in size, and the salad contained a few bits of lettuce, a whole package of cherry tomatoes, large chunks of carrot, whole mushrooms, and large strips of red pepper.

Hubby and I just smiled across the table and praised their efforts.

I used to be very intentional about rotating through the kids as my dinner helpers.  But then they started whining and Joy was always interested in helping, so it has been just her and me for about the past year.  I can see that I erred in letting the older kids out of dinner prep duty.

On Monday Joy helped me make her half-birthday lasagna.  So many times I would reach to grab the spoon out of Joy's hand to take over a task that she wasn't doing just right, and she would grab the spoon right back and tell me that she could handle it.  Yes, Joy, you can.  You were just blessed with a mother who has a hard time letting go of control over her kitchen.  I will give back the spoon and let you spread the ricotta cheese around the noodles however you see fit even if it means some spots are lacking cheese.

Peeling carrots for dinner

Wednesday when I started making pancakes and bacon for dinner, I had three children clamoring to help with dinner prep.  David wanted to handle the bacon.  Lizzy and Joy wanted to help with the pancakes.  As we were tripping over each other trying to get dinner ready, it was so tempting to banish the kids from the kitchen.  But I stopped myself and just let the pancakes be a little uneven in their doneness.  I let the pieces of bacon be both a little over and under crispy for my taste.  Because the kids were happy and willing and I decided putting a perfect meal on the table was less important than the education of my children in the finer arts of cooking.

And so for this week my new thing was learning to let the kids help me with dinner even when it means dinner isn't up to my normal standards.  Even when it means my kitchen ends up messier than I would like.  Even though it is uncomfortable.  Because the only way my children will learn the essential life skill of cooking is if Hubby and/or I teach them.  And since I cook 90% of the meals around here, the task of cook training most naturally falls to me.

I have the feeling that dinner around here might get a little scary before it gets better.  But hopefully my suffering training of the kids now will prevent them from having my experience of being a newlywed with very limited cooking skills whose most vivid memory from her first year of marriage was the night she threw the pan of fish out her back door because it wasn't turning out right.

Week 26 in the series of 52 Weeks of New

Week 18--Having too much Christmas fun to blog
Week 19--A Week of Firsts
Week 20--I Passed the Test
Week 21--???  How did I miss this?
Week 22--I Didn't Scream
Week 23--The Reluctant Servant
Week 24--Snow Day!
Week 25--I Hate Change..Even if it Does Present Me With New Opportunities

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