You already know what I’m going to write about, don’t you?
You’re thinking here’s another post about how lovely it is to nurture kids and make them do family activities like cooking and how this is part education and part hopefully advance training to try and get the kids excited enough that one day they tell you to let go of that expensive cook because from then on it is they who will do all the cooking.
Fine, so the last part might be only partly true but other than that you pretty much got everything wrong, pretty much.
Let’s get one thing straight, you should not venture out and encourage your kids to cook unless you have a lot of patience, and I mean by the bucket-full. Here’s what’s going to happen; your kid will either follow the recipe to the T, which means deviating from it will incur a barrage of questions – it’s a well known fact that no one has the answers to questions kids come up with – and on not being able to answer these questions, your kids will lose all and any trust they have in your abilities of teaching them cooking. Thus, you would just prove to be a disappointment in their eyes and what that will do to your self worth, let’s not even go there.
If you do manage to dodge the bullet, they will insist on doing everything, that is, till they get bored of doing the chore on hand – usually takes roughly 2-3 minutes – and eventually you’ll have to do it all.
Except for maybe cooking on the stove in which case you’ll not be worrying about the food they are making but rather have your doctor on speed dial, car already running, a bucket of cold water on hand, and calling your mom to find all possible home remedies for major or minor burns – Toothpaste works wonders according to mine.
At this point I’d like to clarify that I’m the one who acts like this, my wife, the more patient one, is a little carefree which also means I for a change get to say “I told you so” should any mishap happen.
Kids are very cunning you see.
They make sure that their parents are involved in cooking one way or another and they do this for a reason; if the food turns out to be good, they take all the credit and like a good parent you nod as they inform the guests how they’ve done “everything” even when in your heart you know you’re the one who should be getting all the accolades.
But, if something were to go wrong, it is you who gets blamed for it and as a result forget the food, you’ll now have a messy kitchen to clean-up on top of trying to calm down a sobbing kid.
Doing anything with kids takes a lot of work and cooking is no exception. You need to be calm and composed. You need to let them do it their own way. You need to just be there to take the blame. That is your only job.
But, it’s not all that bad. There’s a lot that can be taught to kids while cooking.
Read the tile folks, there really are some “Highs” to cooking with kids, although the “high” is not for you, rather for them. There’s the actual cooking part that often is fun and then smaller things like taking measurements, time keeping, knowledge about ingredients; cooking is as much fun as you make it out to be.
My advice though is to take on this activity only if you yourself enjoy cooking, otherwise it’ll just be as task for you that will reflect badly on the kid.
Now, I don’t have much patience when it comes to these things.
My wife is the calmer one. I’m more of a, “either let me do it and watch or you do it and I’ll go watch TV” kind of a guy when it comes to cooking with my daughter. My son recently showed interest in cooking too, but considering he’s only 2 and he’d probably end up eating all the raw ingredients before they were cooked meant he was kept out of the kitchen. Here’s the thing though, once we ended cooking, wait, right; my daughter has just informed me that I can’t use “we” because it was “she” who did all the cooking.
Let me start again.
Once my DAUGHTER had finished making EVERYTHING, SHE set out to make, the sense of pride in her was charming to see. She went around the house making everyone try the food and the happiness on her face was worth all the “troubles” along the way. I’m not against cooking with children, in fact I came across a lovely cookbook recently that has simple recipes which can be made with kids quite easily and now we as a family are trying to use that to make new dishes.
Cooking is also an enjoyable activity that can be as calming as it can be educational. But, once again, you’ve got to give a free hand to the kids when getting them involved in the activity. Let them get dirty, and expect your kitchen to look like it has been hit by a tornado by the time you finish.
It’s about exploring tastes and flavour combinations for the kids. They might even start eating Broccoli for all you know, once they get a chance to make something with it. They might fail a few times and you might have to eat heavily salted or burnt food with a smile as a result, but it will eventually spark an interest which might in the long run come in handy – I’m still thinking about the money I can possibly save by removing the cook – and in the end it’s just about letting their imagination go wild because cooking is a form of art too after all.
PS – Just so that you know, I’m still not letting my kids near the flame without a fight (with them and their mother), although I know it is a battle I cannot win.
Now, where did I keep that extra tube of toothpaste?