Is there anything more satisfying than watching a cake rise? Okay, maybe that’s a sweeping rhetorical question, but having just made vanilla cupcakes for Mr 3’s birthday, I feel pretty happy with it. Or perhaps that’s just the relief talking.
Life throws a few furphies at us, but none more so than the list of stuff that is supposed to constitute ‘fun with kids’. Like gardening – pulling weeds on a hot summer’s day with a three year old doesn’t make it high on my list of awesome things to do. I know, I’ll look back on that quality time with nostalgia in a few years when he won’t even let me drop him off in front of the school lest someone see us, but now? It makes a reasonably stress-free activity into a nightmare of ‘don’t do that, not the basil, dig over here’.
And then there’s cooking. There’s a huge range of cute ‘accessories’ now available to tempt us into the kitchen with kids. The experts reckon it’s an essential part of learning, growing and loving. I agree with that (if not the accessories – kids just want to use mum’s stuff in my experience). I just find the reality of it to be, um, temper-inducing.
I’ve cooked with both my boys from the moment they could stand on a chair to ‘help’. We don’t do sharp knives. Just stirring, measuring, cracking eggs, decorating the gingerbread 'guys', licking bowls. At the end of the day, they’d like to fast-forward to the decorating (aka, eating M&Ms) and licking bowls (particularly when I’m explaining why you cream butter and sugar, and why cakes need aeration) – and so would I. It signifies job done. It leaves happy memories to overlay the ‘please don’t throw flour all over the floor’ discussion.
Perhaps that’s why they continue to turn up when I suggest a cooking activity. They don’t see the determination to turn them into men who can look after themselves (and give their other halves a break from kitchen duty when the time comes). They, apparently, think cooking with mum is fun.
Like most things in life, it’s all a matter of perspective.