Yes, my friends. Around our house, we have a new ‘c-word’. It’s cooking.
I can’t say it around my son anymore, because he insists on being part of the action.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled that he loves to cook. I hope to keep his interest going long enough so that someday I can take a break from cooking and give him a night or two a week to cook for the family. I know I’m many years away from that, but a girl can dream, can’t she?
Plus, I definitely want my son to know how to cook. Someday, he’ll be a grown man, and let’s face it girls, a man who can cook for you is just…dreamy.
But it’s starting to be a bit of an issue now because he wants to be part of everything cooking-related.
I started ‘cooking’ with him when he was just over a year old. I let him spread sauce and sprinkle cheese when we made pizzas, or add cinnamon to his oatmeal – simple tasks like that. His preschool did more adventurous stuff with the kids – making ice cream, churning butter, letting them ‘measure’ and mix instant pudding and crush cookies to make dirt cups, etc. When he turned two, I took in cake mix and the kids made their own cupcakes. It was so cute and way more fun than just handing them cupcakes. But his love of cooking has hit new heights in the past few months. It’s an obsession.
Recently, I’ve gotten more adventurous and have tried to let his love of cooking benefit me. He’s more than capable of mixing pancake mix and scrambling eggs, so I let him do those tasks while I get other things ready. And I love having my little buddy around in the kitchen. As soon as I take a cutting board out, he pulls a chair up to the kitchen island and stands on it, and asks me questions like “How many cups, mama?” or “I cut this now?” which I think is so cute. I give him plastic measuring cups and dry beans so he can ‘cook’ with me when there’s nothing that he can do, but he’s starting to catch on and insisting on being part of the real action.
The thing is, I can’t always have a two-year-old helping in the kitchen. I don’t want him around raw meat, or close to knives and stuff. And sometimes I just need to get stuff done. But as soon as the ‘c-word’ is mentioned, he runs to the kitchen and starts grabbing stuff. I’m to the point where I avoid the word if at all possible, instead saying ‘mama’s making dinner’ or ‘getting food ready to eat’ and sneaking around when I’m getting dinner ready. Which is hard because our house has a very open floor plan, so I can’t really hide anything.
Here’s a great example: just a minute ago, he went up to the counter and turned off the slow cooker, gleefully saying “Mama! I’m cooking!” as he turned the knob round and round. Cute.
We got him a little play grill so he can cook on his own, and I have a strong feeling that Santa will bring him a play kitchen this year. But if he’s not convinced by Tupperware and dry beans while he’s standing next to me, I’m not expecting the toy kitchen to work as a distraction when I need it. He’s okay right now. I can say “Mama has to do this part, it’s too dangerous for you right now.” and he’ll reluctantly watch me finish up. But I can tell he’s getting more and more stubborn and wanting to do more (as witnessed by his encounter with the crock pot).
So, how do you handle kids in the kitchen so that you can do what you need to do but still keep them involved? What are your favorite dishes to cook with your kids?