Abigail has been starting to help me cook.
Ever since Susannah was a baby, we've been watching the cooking show Chopped with Ben's parents and for a while we also watched a spinoff called Chopped Junior. It was pretty astounding what 8, 9 or 10 year old kids could do. In their short interviews, the featured kids usually mentioned they had started cooking with one of their parents by age 3.
I looked over at Abigail and thought, "She's 3."
Not only is she three, but she's been insisting on standing on a chair next to me while I cook since she was about 18 months old. She really wants to do what I'm doing. My first instinct was to tell her to wait and watch, but in the end I realized there really are plenty of things she's already able to do and having her work with me is a priceless opportunity.
It does take a lot of time and patience to cook with a 4 year old. But I have a picture in my mind of what it's like to have a capable 12 year old. Fantastic. It's worth every second of having dinner done late because I was waiting for her to finish painstakingly chopping broccoli. It's not because I want slave labor, it's because I want the camaraderie I experienced growing up. I worked with my mom. I felt like I was part of her. We did things together. We really lived together, focused on the same tasks and goals. It built a strong relationship that doesn't happen if everything is divided into "Mom's jobs" and "Kid's chores". I'm looking forward to having that kind of relationship with my daughters. To undertake things together. To talk together and plan together and make things happen together.
The relationship I have with my mom didn't build overnight. It happened over hours and days and months and years as she worked with me and I was gradually capable of more and more. After a while, we could do things together seamlessly because we were so used to accomplishing the same tasks together. It's a little surreal to be starting over again as the mom this time. I remember when my mom let me try making baked things for the first time. Looking back, she was incredibly permissive to let me try making apple cake with no recipe. I need to keep in mind what it felt like to be the kid now that I'm the mom.
In the whirl of taking care of everyone and keeping up with the growing tasks that accompany our growing family, it would be very easy to overlook the small things like letting the youngest child possible to the biggest job possible and letting them do tasks with me instead of entertaining them so I can "get stuff done". It's so tempting to "let kids be kids" and keep the adult things separate but in the end it's counterproductive. Kids are learning to be adults and they're going to be at their most wonderful and lovable as adults. So instead of telling Abigail to go play while I make dinner, I'm making it a goal to find something every night she can help me with, even if it's as small as peeling two carrots.
She's doing it with me and that's the important part.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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