“Grandmama, what are you making?”
“Oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies. Would you like to help?”
“Oh, yes!” It was Jimmy, my then seven-year-old grandson.
“Me, too!” came from his four-year-old brother.
An Adventure Begins
An easy task has just become an adventure. Baking cookies with my children, at any age, and my grandchildren, ranks near the top of my pleasure meter, just under reading books with them and exploring outdoors. The youngest child is allowed to sit on the counter-top while the others gather around on step stools or bar stools. We become a team. Everyone has a turn at measuring, pouring, mixing and tasting. Yes, I always allow tasting. It’s the cook’s prerogative. But you must use a clean spoon.
Many Lessons Learned
The adventure usually begins with the eggs. Teaching a three or four-year-old how to crack an egg and pour only the yolk and white into a mixing bowl is a feat we should all experience. “Tap it just right on the edge of the bowl, like this.” At this point I always scaffold the motion with them, my hand on theirs, gently guiding the quick flick-of-the-wrist action. When we have beginning helpers, we always get out an extra couple of eggs. “Oops, not quite that hard. It’s okay, Grandmama will help you clean it up off the counter and floor.” (I wish I had been as patient with his mama when she was a little girl.) Lessons for child: fine motor skills and precision, cleaning a mess joyfully, team work, and patiently waiting his turn. Lessons for Grandmama or mother: They won’t be this little very long. Hmm…look how he is crossing his midline as he helps clean up the mess on the floor. Good developmental progress. Their fine motor skills are improving. Measuring is much more accurate than in the past. They are definitely understanding how to work together, good social development, too.
Once cracked, the egg is ready to be pulled apart.
“Let’s gently pull the shell apart with our thumbs.”
They love this part. With the utmost concentration, tongue usually just sticking out one side of the mouth, they pull. Plop, into the bowl falls the egg yolk and white.
“Great job, you are learning to be a chef for sure.”
A little voice replies, “Last time there was lots of shell in there, too.”
“Which means you are learning how to pull apart the egg shell in just the right way.”
“I want to try,” interjects a younger little voice.
And the process is repeated, more or less successfully, but with equal determination.
The kitchen offers a plethora of memories for me, my children, and grandchildren as well. There were many lessons taught and caught during the fellowship of preparing goodies and meals, and even in cleaning up messes.