For this Friday Fail I want to chat not about a fail where I ruined food, but a fail where I almost ruined my son’s love for cooking. This fail would have been much bigger than any I could possibly make and I’m glad I was able to avoid it.
When my son was younger, he would hang out in the kitchen with me. At the time, he was small enough to sit on a stepstool as if it were a mini picnic table and bench. It was the absolute cutest thing and I loved it!
So on the days he would join me in the kitchen, he would sit at his stool picnic table and have a snack and watch me. Until one day he asked to join me. I was making brownies from a mix and only had to pour mix, eggs and oil in so I figured it was safe to agree. He jumped up from his stool, I pulled it up to the counter so he could reach and he helped by pouring the mix in the bowl. Now if any of you have ever cooked with children, you know about half of that mix did not actually make it into the bowl! This time, I was able to keep my composure and assure him that it was ok and sweep what I could into the bowl and continue on. I wish I could say this was always my behavior, but if it was then there would be no fail, right?
I remember the time he tried to crack an egg and instead cracked it off the counter. I may have been able to keep it together except this was my last egg and to finish this recipe I would have to make a trip to the store, with him in tow while he complained about how much he hated the store. Instead I got mad and frustrated and he left the kitchen with hurt feelings. After, I did not feel any better, only worse and I now had a messy kitchen, a trip to the store looming and a child whose feelings I hurt. I cleaned up and called him back in and told him I was sorry that I had gotten mad which was met with hugs and smiles. I wish I could say this was the last time but it was not. But he still came into the kitchen and we still muddled through his messiness and my frustration together.
My favorite moment of us in the kitchen happened not too long ago. It was the holidays and around our house Rice Krispy Treats are made for eating, giving, and just for fun. On this day I decided to let my son run the show (I still melted the butter and marshmallows). I gave him a giant box of Rice Krisipes, a large bowl and a 2 cup measuring cup and told him to fill the cup up three times. He sat down on the floor with the box, the cup and the bowl and went to work. After about 30 seconds there were about as many Rice Krispies on the ground as in that bowl and you know what? I did not care one bit. What I saw was a smiling boy, surrounded by food, helping me out and finding great joy in the simple act of cooking. I knew there was a mess to be cleaned up, but I knew that it was nothing compared to this fun moment. Having a dog by this time helped too, boy did she eat well that day!!!
So for this fail I urge you all parents of littles or those who hang with the small ones, let them make messes in the kitchen, even if it gives you some extra work. Those messy moments will be gone from your mind soon enough but the joy felt in preparing a meal and helping will be held by the children for a long time to come. And someday, while they are in their own kitchen, they will remember that joy of preparation and put down the keys and instead of going out, will fill their own kitchen with sweet cooking smells.