“Mummy can I help you?”
This is what I hear nine times out of ten when I’m standing at the kitchen counter preparing a meal for my family. It doesn’t really matter what my answer is because she inevitably goes to the dining room scrapes my poor old antique chair across the wooden floor to the kitchen counter, climbs up and asks me to get her, her apron.
This is Lucy Bella, three year old cook extraordinaire.
As ALL of you reading this will know, cooking for your family is rarely a leisurely affair. Most of the time you are rushing to get it done as quickly as possible so that your family doesn’t eat too late, your kids still have time for bath, story, bed before half seven or whatever time sleep time is. At times like this, the thought of a three year old, even your own, “helping” you in the kitchen is, quite frankly, out of the bloody question. Yet, Lucy’s persistence is dogged and no matter how many times I say no, she still pushes the old chair along to the kitchen counter and for this I have to thank her for she has taught me something.
What I have discovered is, that, when you are busy in the kitchen, or office, or garden or whatever, it is not the mess, the danger or the inconvenience that is the initial deterrent, it is deciding exactly how your child can really help you in your adult world of cooking, working, gardening or grocery shopping. Taking all of 10 seconds to think of just one thing that Lucy could do to help me in the kitchen is all it takes for it to make it ok for her to be there, even during Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals! It can be something as simple as opening a packet of carrots and putting them into a colander or taking the chopped vegetables off the board you chopped them on and putting them into a roasting tray. She can baste the chicken with olive oil or even try to crack an egg into a bowl. If it drops on the floor, it’s a nice treat for the dog.
I have to admit, that Lucy does actually help me. Even if its the tiniest thing, her presence , company and the knowledge that I am passing on an inherent love of food to my child makes the whole experience all the more rewarding. It’s these moments when teaching your child while, at the same time, being taught by them that make parenting, truly, the most magical thing in the world. Thanks my darling girl.