A few weeks ago we had some new friends and their kids over. I wasn’t feeling totally up to snuff and therefore could not think of what to make for dinner. Turning to my 13-year-old, I said, “Do you want to make dinner?”
To my surprise, he assented. He rifled through our freezer to see what meat lay in wait, looked up a recipe, and grilled marinated chicken breast tenders for everyone.
At some point I realized how cool this was, that I could ask my oldest if he wanted to cook and he would. He could. I also realized this could be seen as showing off -when, in reality, I just felt too tired and sick to make anything fancier than packaged Ramen.
Still, it brought up the discussion of allowing our children to cook.
One of the best things my mother did for me was teach me to cook and bake. When she made anything, my sister and brother and I helped. I probably started out ‘helping’ the way all inquisitive toddlers and preschoolers do, yet do not remember ever being yelled at or discouraged from what I was attempting.
Likewise, inviting my children to help where they wanted was never a question. From toast to scrambled eggs to pancakes to boxed mix brownies, I have always had mine work with me. At a young age I asked them to stir this or measure and dump in that.
The family friend told us she did not let her kids in the kitchen. She didn’t like them messing things up.
I remember blinking and looking at my teenage son. He’s expressed surprise and a little concern over his peers who say they can’t or don’t want to make basic foods. He and his brothers are so unafraid of the kitchen that I frequently find they’ve made themselves an omelet or attempted chocolate lava cakes.
And, yes, it’s messy. I’ve had to carry egg noodle-crusted hands to a bathroom sink whilst yelling to another child to not turn the stove on without me there or I’d light him on fire (we have a gas stove). I came down to breakfast yesterday morning to find that my 8- and 5-year old had made French toast and coated the entire counter in spilled egg and milk. I’ve had to clean the oven after those same two ‘invented’ their own cake recipe and it overflowed the pan and the smoke alarms went off.
But it’s worth it. Now, I can look back and know that their cooking confidence was because of me. Because I allowed the mess. Because I encouraged the involvement. Because I pushed my children to try.
So I say to let them mess things up. Allow mistakes. It definitely leads to tasty rewards.
Sunday, June 2: “Why Give Teachers Presents?,” a post about how important it is to reward our hard-working teachers.
Monday, June 3: Wrote a poem titled, “A Chauffeur Mother’s Prayer.”
Wednesday, June 5: Dinner Tip 6: Buy and make frozen dinners.
Thursday, June 6: “Love is an Open Door,” a quick thought about real love as a parent.
Friday, June 7: Suggested one saving tip for doing laundry in, “NeverEnding Laundry… Na na na na na na na na naaaa.”
Saturday, June 8: Shared MumInBits‘s tweet about watching your favorite at the park.
Sunday, June 9: That’s today!
©2019 Chelsea Owens
MumInBits knows that we really do have a favorite…
The two constants in my life are laundry and dishes, the true NeverEnding Story of anyone in charge of a household.
Likewise, I feel I am forever searching for The Secret or The Quest or The Answer to The Laundry. After many years of fruitless searching and with almost all hope lost, I am beginning to think the Nothing will win after all…
Without a powerful relic or small boy with a secret name to solve all my problems, I’ve had to accept that Laundry will continue to be a NeverEnding problem for the rest of my life. So, what’s a parent to do? I can’t pay someone else unless it’s a laundromat and I fork over $20/clothing item. I can’t buy new clothes instead of washing the dirty ones because we need money for food. I can’t force the children to wear the same outfit over and over since we have all boys.
Guess we’ll go through it.
But. But. We hardly need to go it alone. In the words of a former neighbor who birthed 11 children: if a child is old enough to dress himself, he’s old enough to operate a washing machine.
In my experience, this is true. Some of mine have needed a lot more help than others, but they can at least dump the soap in and push the right buttons. It’s not like they have to beat the garments on rocks and keep lye from getting in their eyes, after all.
I’ve even started a family rule that everyone is in charge of his own laundry starting at age 10. All I had to do was show the old-enough child how to start a load, what clothing not to mix, and how much soap to use. Then, all I’ve had to do is remind them every single time their hamper is full that it’s time to wash the clothes.
Still, it’s progress. They’re learning life skills. And, they’re screwing up their own clothes when they ignore what I taught them.
Wikimedia Commons, By Michael Kleinhenz from Bonn, Germany
© 2019 Chelsea Owens
My children have had a fair mix of school teachers over the years; good, bad, never ugly. Some could have been ….better at their jobs. -You know, jobs where they should have known they were working with small children and might need a smidgen of patience and crowd control. One or two others were phenomenal and more than earned their middling teacher’s salary. The rest land just lower than that, which is fine for a normal human.
But that’s it: teachers make the same whether they put a movie on at least once a
week day or whether they split children into ability-appropriate groups and organized educational games.
And all of them take my children all day. That right there is enough to earn their pay.
On top of that, they manage to teach my kids a thing or two that I couldn’t. I’d say that’s good for a candy bar on their birthday.
Best of all, that saint with a yardstick did not end up killing that one child (who looked a lot like my son) who dumped water on her on Field Day and ran off laughing about it. I’m …still working on what to get her.
Teaching is a highly underrated and underpaid profession. Yes, teachers only work 9 months of the year. Technically they work from 8-3 instead of 9-5. They get summers off and Christmas Break and the occasional PTA present of a mug. Some do not try as hard as they might and some go into the profession intending to not try.
In actual practice however, teachers spend the ‘extra’ 3 months setting up lesson plans, classrooms, and schedules. Their days run from 7 a.m.-whenever they finish grading homework. Many work summer jobs to make ends meet (often also in an educational position like Driver’s Ed). Some have so many mugs they donate them straight to Goodwill. Most do not go into teaching to make money, but to make a difference.
Even the (two) times my children have had barely passable elementary instructors, I made sure those women received some token of appreciation at Christmas and during Teacher Appreciation Week.
The very people teaching my boys with positive reinforcement could use a little of their own. Teaching is difficult. The pay’s not worth it. In several areas of the world, the children and the parents put stress on already impossible expectations.
And maybe every time a child (who looks suspiciously like mine) acts up a bit, they’ll feel somewhat better knowing a parent out there loves them and appreciates what they do.
Sunday, May 26: “Happily Ever After is Possible, but it Requires an Epic Journey,” a post encouraging couples to work at their relationship.
Monday, May 27: Wrote a poem titled, “Summer Vacation -Almost.”
Tuesday, May 28: Shared an appropriate image about real life expectations.
Wednesday thru Saturday: Nothing, nothing; tra-la-la.
Sunday, June 2: That’s today!
© 2019 Chelsea Owens