**Please excuse the mess in the photos. The housekeeper has been calling in lazy a lot these days**
Since my children were able to stand, they have helped in the kitchen. I have a stool and a ladder on which they stand and help unwrap butter, dump in pre-measured ingredients and stir the pot. When they get a little older, they measure the ingredients, crack the eggs and scrape the sides of the bowls. Once they learn to read, they learn to read and follow a recipe and double (or more) a batch. In those years of standing by my side, they learn what golden brown looks like on the top of a cookie, what simmer means and why higher temperatures do not mean done faster. My oldest is just beginning to discover the nuances of seasonings and the fact that once you learn the do, ra, me's of cooking you can create all kinds of songs in the kitchen.
Doesn't this sound lovely? It's not.
I always have a stool and a ladder in the middle of my kitchen floor. I must have someone in front of me helping roll out dough or whisk the batter. Do you know how difficult it is for a four year old to get the whole cup of sugar in the bowl without dumping some on the floor? Learning to stir means splashes on the stove and drippings down the front of the cabinets. There are moments in cooking when one must work very fast. That is hard to do when you must go around people in a maze like pattern; repeatedly. Some things get burned, some things are spilled, sometimes I want to pull my hair out. Sometimes I have a tantrum and kick everyone out.
But then, one morning, I wake up to this:
My seven year old daughter can make pancakes--from scratch. She knows the recipe by heart. She know how to be careful of the heat of a griddle. She has the dexterity to flip.
My older pods can make a dozen meals and that does not just include sandwiches (though spreading peanut butter is much more difficult than you would expect). They are comfortable working with the stove.
There is still a lot of work to do: cleaning up after cooking is more than they can handle, their arms are not quite long enough to reach in the oven, and chopping with a knife is restricted unless I am there to supervise.
But, hey! I don't have to cook every meal anymore. I am earning my promotion.