About two or three months ago my almost five year old decided to become a Chef. I shouldn’t tell you that it is very difficult to explain to the little human that he is not capable to do something, especially when he is sure that he knows everything already.
There is a line, which you shouldn’t cross in explaining the child that he should learn first to be able to do something properly. Because the fact that the child is sure that he CAN is amazing! Many adults lose their self-confidence and are scared to start new projects, because they were taught that they are not capable to do things.
I started to cook, when I was seven years old, and my fist dish was crepes. I remember how I loved them, and how I made the mix of the best parts of my mom’s and grandma’s recipes. I was happy to make the most delicious and thinnest crepes of all. It is such a wonderful memory. I loved to taste the food, to memorize the recipes, to look through the cooking books, to watch TV shows, and to learn from the best cook ever – my grandma. What confused me with my boy was that he decided to skip the learning part and jumped right into cooking.
I had the choice: to be strict and allow him to cook with the full control from my side using the existing recipes only, or to allow him to come to an understanding that sometimes it is good to follow some instructions to make things better. Of course we went on with the second option.
I don’t know who achieved more from this experience – my boy or my husband and me. And here are the reasons why:
- He was making things independently and accurately, without any control and my presence in the kitchen (he doesn’t touch the stove or oven without me, just because he understands that he needs help with it).
- He was teaching his 3 y.o. brother how to whisk, how to add ingredients and how to do everything he can. And his little brother was following everything he said.
- I’ve learned to trust my boys more, even hearing the sound of cracking eggs and spilled milk, I didn’t run to the kitchen, I allowed by kids to handle it all by themselves, and they didn’t disappoint me. They even tried to clean the floor, no matter that they didn’t do it well – they tried!
- My boys were learning to do things as a team and my older boy tried the role of the leader.
- He understood that if he wants to put a pin on his nose to eat the food he prepared, it would taste as bad as it smells and that he wasted the products.
- I understood that kids don’t notice that they had little help with choosing ingredients, when they were cooking. They are in process and they only see the final result.
- My kid actually learned some steps of cooking and was practicing them.
- He understood that he should add something besides eggs and spices to make a dish.
- The most important – he understood that parents trust him!
There were several good dishes, which he made with some help, still sure that it was something he made all by himself. There were also several unsuccessful attempts to cook something with his own recipes without any help form adults, which were followed by our discussions about the cooking, the tastes of different products, their purposes, and that things are not as easy as they look sometimes, but that he can succeed with them if he understand the concept first.
That is how we came to decision to cook using the cooking book. Luckily, we found a cooking book for kids under the Christmas tree and we could jump into the cooking right away.
We even gave him a chance to have an experience of buying ingredients in the grocery store, and it was so cute! (We filmed the whole process and I am sure that he will be happy to see it when he grows up). I explained him how to use the cook book, how to understand which ingredients he needs and how to follow the steps!
I am sure that we will have many wasted products, lots of spilled bowls, and dirty countertops, but I think that we are on the right direction in our cooking adventure with my boy, with all of them.