Awhile ago, I declared to my boys that they would be taking over the kitchen. The opposite of an invasion. More like a forced occupation. They were, naturally and notably, resistant, perferring to sit on plump cushions while plinking on electronic devices and being catered to. At least in their dreams. But I persisted. And they are relenting
I am requiring my children to cook. Yes. I used that word. Is it still in the Parenting Dictionary For The 21st Century?
Require: specify as compulsory, cause to be necessary, need for a particular purpose.
The purpose: I need the help. Divorced mother of 4 boys, business owner, starter of artistic ventures, queen of the House of Testesterone. And they need to learn to help. I have seen a multitude of reasons for teaching your children to cook from math skills strengthening to exposure to other cultures and traditions. No one has mentioned this reason. Yet.
My boys rotate responsibility for lunches and dinners, and the dreaded kitchen cleaning hour of weeping. Sometimes there is knashing of teeth, crop failure, the often-vegetarian will get mad at the frequently-carnivorous cook for the offerings…They can product a limited palate of edibles with minimal fire and water damage to the kitchen. I, in my everlasting multitasking role, am the only one so far to set off the fire alarm. Twice. They don’t. They do not make masterful menus and no one has fronted up to say they aspire to be a celebrity chef. Or Flynn McGarry. But they eat and grow.
In this ongoing effort, I have seen this remarkable side benefit.
Cooking for each other has improved sibling relations. No kidding. It goes beyond the wielding a knife and sword play with spatulas. And it goes deeper. If food is about nurturing, then my boys are learning to take care of each other in a deeply meaningful way.
The other day I happened upon number 3 son making a sandwich for his younger brother. It was a spontaneous act of caring by one brother to another. He was wielding a knife and a block of cheese like a knight of the round table, but it was a nurturing act nonetheless.
It happened again last night. Number 2 son was taking omelet orders from the others. No requiring necessary.
“Cooking for people is an enormously significant expression of generosity and soulfulness, and entertaining is a way to be both generous and creative. You’re sharing your life with people.” ~ Ted Allen