Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Culinary Masters

My son and I have been butting heads since this whole Bed-Rest fiasco started. He turns 6 next month, and he has always been my "easy" one. He has a temper, but it takes a LOT to get him riled up. He typically keeps his room clean, his favorite chore is scrubbing toilets (BLESS HIM!!), and he usually is asking me if there are any jobs he can do around the house to earn extra privileges. I thought he would enjoy me being on bed rest because he'd get to earn game-time and other privileges up the wa-zoo. WRONG. Anytime I've asked him to do something, he rolls his eyes (when did he learn THAT??), huffs, says something along the lines of "I'm sick of picking up after you!!", and stomps off to his room. Uh. WHAT? First off, that is MY line, and second off, WHAT THE HECK?? Since when has it been okay to talk to me this way?? I will admit that he and I have gotten into some pretty childish arguments over the last few days. Christmas was a wonderful break because Dan had a 4 day weekend and my parents were off as well, so I had a lot of help. It is now 3 days after Christmas and everyone has gone back to work and reality is setting back in. I've tried to make more of an effort to interact with my kids, like playing Legos with Jay and Dollhouse with Karah. Santa was so thoughtful to bring the kids things that we all can enjoy from the bed or couch. I've been thinking and praying about what to do to improve Jayden's and my relationship since Monday. We just seem to be butting heads like battling rams. The harder I push, he seems to push back harder. Yesterday I noticed that it was starting to happen again, and I tried a different approach. Before Bed-Rest (BBR), I would either have dinner ready in time to sit down to eat when Dan got home for work, or, on my late days, I would either put together a crock pot meal or have SOMETHING quick and easy for Dan to throw together when he got home so he and the kids could just relax when they got home. Me being on bed-rest has thrown a wrench into that plan, seeing as the doctor chastised me for SITTING too much last week and not LAYING DOWN enough. I can't cook dinner anymore, and it is driving me (and my poor family) nuts because they have to wait however long it takes my poor husband to produce something edible before they can eat. I love the man...but he hates cooking. And I hate $5 pizzas. So, yesterday, before Jay's and my disagreement turned into WW3, another crazy-brilliant idea popped into my head: Let Jayden cook dinner. I've always let him help me, and he LOVES helping out in the kitchen. He is my sports buddy and my cooking buddy. He will sit down and watch football and Food Network with me, and he helps me grocery shop for ingredients. The kid is good. What five year old do you know that can tell the difference between an orange and a tangerine? Or who can tell the difference between iceberg lettuce and romaine? He knows how to tell if strawberries are fresh or not, too. AND he compares prices. Yes. My five year old is frugal. It is awesome. So, anyway, I decide that he and Karah can put dinner together. He has helped me enough in the kitchen to earn the official title of my "Sous Chef". He knows how to peel vegetables, brown hamburger meat, fry an egg, (ALL with my supervision, OF COURSE!!) and we were working on flipping a pancake when BR happened. I asked Jay if he wanted to start dinner my himself. His eyes lit up. "What am I going to make?" Me- "I was thinking Hobo Stew. What do you think?" Jay- "There's a lot of vegetables that need peeled and chopped. I'm a master peeler, but I can't chop..." Me- "Well, you and Karah peel the potatoes and carrots, then bring me a cutting board and I will chop them." Jay- "You're REALLY letting me cook??" Me-"Yes." That little man was so excited! He brought me the cutting board and paring knife (yes, people, the kid also knows his knives...) and peeled an onion for me. He then took his little sister to the kitchen, made sure they both washed their hands with soap (!!!), got the peelers out, and then proceeded to teach his sister how to peel carrots. Together they peeled 6 carrots, and then he went on to peel 6 perfect potatoes. He brought those to me, and I told him to get the hamburger meat out of the fridge and put it in the pot with the onions. Thankfully, our kitchen and living room are very close, and I was only about 5 feet away from him. I did cheat and get up to turn the stove on to the right temperature, then he shooed me out of "his" kitchen. We may have to cut back on watching Chef Gordan Ramsay a little bit... He had his chair pushed up to the stove, and he was super careful while browning the beef and onions. He also minced a clove of garlic perfectly. (I have a hand-held mincer...) He then carefully added the rest of the vegetables. Luckily, my husband bought the easy-open cans of corn and green beans, so he was able to add those, too, without much difficulty. I had beef broth in the fridge in a carton, and he added that as well. He and I have been going over different herbs and we decided that a little bit of thyme and rosemary would go perfectly. I had to cheat again and help him find them. Once he had them, though, I was "shooed" again. A little bit of water, and a few bouillon cubes later, and we had a culinary masterpiece. Dan got home and was starting to chastise me for cooking dinner when Jayden (who TATTLES on me any and every time I get up for something other than going to the bathroom...I'm sorry, but sometimes I do walk from the couch to my bed instead of the bathroom...) piped up and said, "Mommy didn't cook dinner, Daddy, I DID!!" He was SO excited! Dan then took the time to survey the kitchen...there may or may not have been carrot and potato peels EVERYWHERE. "I see..." he said, looking at me with raised eyebrows. Jayden told him about how the only thing I did was chop up the vegetables while sitting on the couch, and how he had done everything else. Dan tasted the soup and was impressed. "It tastes just like Mommy made it!!" Jayden (and I) beamed at the compliment. Now, I know that some people will probably freak out at the fact that I allowed my not-quite-six-year-old son to COOK dinner. They will do so because they do not know my son. He and I have been cooking together since we brought him home from the hospital. As an infant he was in a sling while I stood at the stove. As he got older, I would let him help where he could. He knows his way around the kitchen, he knows how to be safe around a stove, he knows how to measure, he knows his ingredients, and I was supervising his every move. After Jayden finished putting dinner together, he was a totally different kid from before. He cleaned up (most) of his mess. He only left the peelings because he felt his sister needed to help him (and I agreed) and she was more interested in anything but at the time. I told Jay that he could take a break from cleaning until Daddy got home and play his Wii game. He decided to pick up his toys, organize his new Lego table, bring me an ice water (without me asking), and play with his sister instead. (!!!) The "real" Jayden was back!! I think our problem was that he felt that I was just barking out orders and not recognizing that he could do more than just pick up his toys. He is used to helping me do some pretty grown up stuff, and I hadn't been acknowledging that lately. It had been almost 3 weeks since he helped me with anything besides picking up his toys. I think that by allowing him to be responsible for dinner made him realize that he is still my "Sous Chef" and that I still think of him as a growing boy and not a "little slave kid" (his words, people...). There have been a lot of changes to the way our little family does things, and when Annie is born, there will be even more changes. The important thing for me as a mother is to let my kids see that no matter what life throws our way my love for them only grows.


  1. I love this!! I don't think you are crazy at all for letting your 6-year-old cook dinner. I think it is awesome that you have molded him into such a responsible and knowledgeable kid. I know teens who couldn't begin to do what he did! =)

    Kudos on creativity and perseverance. Hang in there-- you'll get through this!

  2. I love this. My mom let me help cook and even cook on my own from a very young age, and I think this is awesome. I'm glad you are finding things that will work while you're stuck on the couch. I know that has to be an icky situation. Hooray for creativity!