Big news last night: my husband and I got one step closer to working ourselves out of a job. (OK, one of our jobs). Our kid made us dinner.
"Made" would perhaps be a bit of an exaggeration, actually, so let's back up. He chose the menu- first course and dessert. He spearheaded all elements of meal prep. He collaborated with his dad from start to finish. And we called it - quite fairly I'd say, for a first time - "his dinner."
On the menu were turkey tacos and blueberry dump cake. He got out the ingredients and dinnerware, chopped the lettuce and tomatoes, grated the cheese (with help from his sister), assisted with cooking and seasoning the turkey, and made virtually the whole cake himself. (That's the beauty of a dump cake, right? It defines "simplicity cooking.") It came out great.
A few years back I took note that my friend Cari had their oldest daughter cook dinner for her family monthly, starting at age 8. I remember thinking, "Wow, that's pretty soon for us... I can't see that happening." But it stayed in the back of my mind as a worthwhile goal to pursue, and as his kitchen know-how improved and his pancakes emerged better and better off the griddle, I figured we were ready to try it. And here he is at 9 1/4, getting the job done.
When I asked our son how much of the meal he thought he cooked vs. his dad, he estimated 65% him, 35% his dad. When I put the question to my husband, he estimated the reverse - 65% himself, 35% our son. Isn't it funny how perspectives differ? After discussion, our son agreed that his dad had done more than half the work… though everyone (including he) felt great about his portion and performance. His comment: "I didn't know how much work it took to make tacos, Mom!" I smiled on the inside… because I did know the workload involve in taco-making, and it warmed me that we'd begun the transfer of this knowledge to his mind (and hands).
A few Notes to Self on this, as I'll need them before long when we get our second-born on the dinner bandwagon...
1. Make sure to get some easy wins in first. Our son had been making eggs, pancakes, and instant pudding regularly before we set the dinner goal before him, and he had assisted in other tasks.
2. Put it on the calendar. As the resident Chaos Manager, I sometimes find that just the notion of initiating a new kid-venture - adding a whole new thing to life - can feel overwhelming. So two months out, I wrote "first dinner" on the calendar and started talking about it when I saw it approaching. I made it recurring, so last Sunday of every month: he's in.
3. Factor in ample time, as the process takes notably longer than if we did it ourselves.We started before 4 pm.
And the obvious ones, of course: be sincerely thankful for the service. Be hefty with the praise. Celebrate the meal for the milestone it is (over a second helping of fantastic blueberry dump cake, maybe)