My little Olivia is 9 going on 25.
It wasn’t too long ago she began showing an interest in how things work around the house. She’s always been maternal, so this seemed the natural progression. She helps with laundry, watches over her brothers, and is the general worry-wart of the household when Beth’s off duty. Just yesterday I followed her as she led a group of eight fourth graders to an abandoned garage where someone had seen a litter of kittens without a mother. Thankfully, when we got there, the place was empty. the problem had either been solved, or was just one of those things that little girls build up in their minds.
Long story short, tonight’s lesson in household management was cooking breakfast-for-dinner. She’d mastered toast and really wanted to branch out into splattery, greasy, meats, but I’d been wary. I figured we’d try to manage a bunch of stuff all at once, with supervision, of course.
There are many reasons to teach your kids to cook at an early age:
- They’ll develop an understanding of how things work.
- They’ll appreciate the effort you put into bringing a hot meal to the table.
- One day, they’ll be expected to care for themselves.
- It increases their appetite. Kids eat more of the foods they help prepare.
- Most importantly – they get chatty – and Dad gets to learn what’s really going on.
Because my fear of marring my beautiful daughter with a grease burn outweighed her invincibility complex, we opted to bake the fresh (never salted or cured) bacon on a broiling pain in the oven at 425 deg. Liv was amazed at how slimy it was.
While she spread bacon on the sheet and put the sausage links in the small pan, and the fresh-ground sausage in the other (we raised and slaughtered a pig this year), she began to talk about boys. Seems there’s this boy who’s liked her FOREVER. Remember, she’s 9. He convinced her to “go out” with him for one day. She conceded, provided he NOT TELL ANYONE. He, of course, told his best friend, who told two others, who told the biggest mouths in all the fourth grade. Naturally, everyone knew by lunch. Worst part? When she tripped and everyone laughed at her, HE joined in. I’d hunt him down if I knew his name.
She got a kick out of breaking apart the sausage, and tending to the pans.
We put on some Pandora Summer Hits of the 90s, and played. I prompted her to stir her stuff every few minutes. “Wow, you have to do this all the time,” she remarked. Lessons being learned. Lesson number 2: if you don’t say UNO, and Dad catches you, you’ll have to pick up extra cards, and Dad will win. Ruthless.
I decided to save us all a lot of trouble and bought a small carton of egg whites. Neither Liv or Beth like “yellows.” Worked out great.
I did the ‘tricky’ stuff: taking the bacon out of the oven so it could be turned, transferring the cooked sausages to plates, etc. She let me work out the toast. Liv set the table, cooked the eggs, worked the timers/burners, filled the glasses – everything else.
It is so nice to see the pride on her face when she did something complex for the first time, and get to enjoy everyone’s compliments and “mmmmm” noises. That, and we got to spend a half-hour together in the kitchen.
Quote of the night: “When I get married, I’m going to do most of the cooking, and let my husband hang out with the kids in the living room – just like you let Mom.” Hahaha.
I get precious few moments alone with my kids during the school year. If I’m not at work, and they’re not at school, or playing with their friends, or working on homework, or at dance, or at church – they’re asleep. I’ve learned to take advantage of them, not take them for granted. I had so much fun! I hope she did, too.