I’ve been working my way down my To Do list of “Not raising Sucky Kids” tasks – and last night, the kids made dinner. And yes, it was a smashing (aka “not bloody”) success!
Here’s how the conversation went when I broke the news to the kids about their new responsibility:
Mom: “Guess what kids? You have a new job. You’re going to cook dinner for the family by yourselves. Once a month.”
Kids: “What? We make the whole dinner? Without you?”
Mom: “That’s right. And I don’t want to hear any complaints. Everyone has to pull their weight in this household, do you hear me? I’m not your servant. One day, you’ll have your own…”
Kids: “YEAH! WOW! YEAH! We’re so excited!!”
Kids: ” We can’t believe you’re letting us do this, Mom! This is awesome. You NEVER let us do stuff in the kitchen! What should we make? Wait! Can we… use the knives? Will you… let us use the stove?”
That darn article was right. Parents DO handicap their kids. I was afraid they might cut their fingers or burn their wrists. I figured I would have to nag and cajole them through the entire process. I thought making dinner was just too much work for them at this age. I was teaching my kids not to help. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
My kids (aged 9 and almost 7) took to making dinner like dogs to a bone. They spent two days talking about the menu. My daughter even took out my cookbooks. I suggested peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. Or cereal. But they wanted to “cook something real.” Finally, I shut up and they decided on Pigs in a Blanket.
In the afternoon, we went food shopping together and on the drive home, I gave “my one-and-only set of instructions on how to cook appetizers for dinner.” The car had never been so quiet. At home, they unpacked the groceries while I brought all equipment down to kid level. After a quick lesson on how to turn on the stove and how not to slice off your pinkie finger, I left the room. Too many cooks in the kitchen, right? Occasionally, the kids found me to ask “How do I know when the hotdogs are done cooking? or How do I pour oil over the broccoli? or How do I get the avocado pit out?”. I responded with “You’re the chef. Figure it out yourself.” And guess what? They did! I only came back in to the kitchen to take a photo or to pull at heavy tray out of the oven.
It has to be one of my most brilliant parenting moves, this “kids make dinner once a month” thing. The kids worked together (Collaboration! Teamwork!) and they worked hard (Self-Motivation! Work Ethic!). They now have a profound understanding of how time-consuming dinner preparation is (Empathy! Appreciation of their Mom!) and their self-pride in a yummy dinner was apparent (True Rewards!). And they know how to use a knife and survive on their own more than ever before (Independence! Survival of the Fittest!). I could go on and on.
Who knew kids were so capable, eh?
(And who knew I could spend 45 minutes during dinner prep-time surfing celebrity pics on fashion?!?)
Here are some pics, just to prove that it wasn’t all a dream: