“Because being a homemaker isn’t about being extraordinary. It’s about seeing the ordinary in a conscious way. A way that leads to gratitude, joy and understanding. A way that allows me to create an environment in which my family can become more human everyday. If you are moved, I invite you to share your ordinary things by replying below or leaving a link.”
Confession: kids in the kitchen, not one of my favorite parenting jobs.
I love the idea of kids learning about process and transformation, and I know that involving them in growing and preparing their own food ensures healthier eating habits, but the reality of kids in the kitchen makes me cringe.
Part of my hesitancy is our 8′ x 10′ galley kitchen which contains about six square feet of counter space, none of which ever seems to be clear. Navigating the space by myself is enough of a challenge. But it’s more than that. What I love about cooking is the weaving together of precision and attention and intuition. The exact moment the muffin batter goes from just right to over mixed. Or the stir fry crosses from crisp tender to mush. The difference between 1/2 and 3/4 of a teaspoon of vanilla. Just enough whey, butter and salt in a pot of soaked grains. It’s not the flour on the floor or the egg shells in the bowl that send me inwardly reeling, it’s those little sticky hands fumbling about right in the middle of the flow of a sacred exchange between me and food. An exchange I want my children to know, but struggle to teach to them when what I really want is to snatch the spoon out of their hands and fold in salt and oil myself.
Naturally, two of my children always want to help in the kitchen, so they’ve gifted me a great opportunity to be conscious of why it is hard for me. I felt guilty about it for a long time. Now instead, I set aside items that they are always invited to help with and know that it will be a different experience and that’s okay. One of those items is birthday cake.
We’ve never made a hubbub out of half birthdays, so I was surprised on Thursday when I told Opal she was officially four and a half and her reply was “I get to help make the cake! I want chocolate with chocolate frosting!” In her mind it was a matter of course. In my mind, I was preparing for a weekend cold weather camping trip and really didn’t want to think about cake and sugar highs. But I try to say “yes” whenever I can, so I took a deep breath. “When we get back from our camping trip we’ll make a cake.”
On Sunday afternoon we set to work baking. And knocking the rice cooker off the never clear counter, sending it crashing to the floor. And falling off the kitchen stool with a full 1/2 gallon glass jar of milk in hand. And asking a dozen times if it was time to lick the spoon. Or the bowl? Or the beater? And prematurely turning the mixer on high, sending flour to corners of the kitchen that will probably never be cleaned. And sneaking back into the kitchen to suck frosting straight out of the pastry bag. Yes, straight out of the bag.
I managed to keep my cool. Mostly. And she managed to be one proud four and a half year old when we put that cake out on the table. “Doesn’t it look so good, guys? I got to help make it.”