I’m ready for a Southern Living moment in my tiny, charming retro kitchen. My eager children are smiling in their tiny aprons. Little chubby, willing hands wait patiently for instruction. All ingredients are perfectly and prettily measured into stylish prep bowls – you know, in that annoying way they do on cooking show segments. (I particularly get a culinary kick out of the way they put the finished dish in the oven and the second oven already has a finished dish in it. Hark!) My children even eat everything with proud delight as they have had a hand in the prep work. (This is one of the promised side-effects, yes?)
Sadly, by the third ingredient, I’ve lost one kid and part of the butter to the art supplies,the toddler is pulling desperately on my pant legs (watch out…I know from experience those yoga pants will fall), and the child who is interested is trying to convince me baking soda and baking powder are probably just the same thing while reaching for the huge chef’s knife. And he wants to practice chopping on the crayons.
Ahhh, kids in the kitchen. I often hear more experienced moms discuss the merits of expecting and allowing kids to help with food preparation. “All the good mothers are doing it,” they preach. In my heady bubble world this sounds delightful. Meal planning and preparation: What a valuable thing to incorporate into our homeschooling day. Fractions, vegetables (you know how I feel about the vegetables, people), gratitude for food God provides, and money management. Perfect.
The truth? I want my kids out of the kitchen. Not in. I want that sacred moment of cathartic chopping all to myself. I’m selfish in the kitchen. I don’t want the chaos of don’t-spill-it and wait-until-I-tell-you-to-stir and did-you-just-eat-raw-egg. I’m in a hurry. I just need to get supper on the table, for the love of all that is edible and holy.
Oh, wise culinary engineers out there, pray tell this selfish mom how to enjoy her children in the kitchen. You know who you are: If your 9 year-old can prepare a family meal independently, I’m talking to you, you excellent food disciplinarian, you. Let them make a mess? Pray for more patience? Wait until they are twelve? I know you all know the secret and you are just not telling me…