Tuesday, August 9, 2011
"Mom?" Abby began one day. "Can I help you make dinner?"
I looked down at my six year old little girl. She barely could see over the counter, much less help me chop the veggies for the salad we would have that night.
"Sure... grab a stool & come on.'
Abby scrambled up on the barstool next to the kitchen island. I handed her a cutting board and her knife.
Yes--a knife. A real one. A sharp one.
I've been teaching my girls to cook since they each turned five. We started with simple things--helping to get ingredients out of the lower cabinets, adding the chocolate chips to the cookie batter, cutting soft foods like avocados with kid-safe knife.
But now we've moved on... the girls are learning to cut veggies and other foods with a real knife. They know to keep their fingers curled under and they know a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one.
They're learning other things, though, too--
They're learning to be independent. Soon enough the time will come when they'll own knives of their own. They'll know how to dice and chop and julienne. They'll know the satisfaction of feeding themselves and those they love.
They're learning to take risks. Abby loves to put odd ingredients together to see how they taste (peanut butter and cheese anyone?). Molly invented her own dessert--Ritz cracker smores. By letting them experiment with noodles and sauces, I'm teaching them that sometimes we make mistakes, and that's okay. They're also learning about the wonder of surprises, like pineapple popsicles.
They're learning to be confident. You have to believe you can flip that pancake and attack it with gusto. Same thing with life; you have to face things head on and deal with whatever life throws at you.
The time I spend in the kitchen with my girls is time well spent. Cooking with them is not a chore; rather it is special time we have together to talk about our days or things that are on our minds. I wouldn't trade it for the world.