This weekend, my son made my day many times over. I don't know if I can even fully describe the delight I felt at the end of the weekend.
There has been a bit of a drought for us in terms of cooking. In fact, I was starting to get a little sad, thinking my son has gone from this sweet toddler who wanted to be with me all the time to becoming an independent boy who would rather watch cartoons or play dinosaurs than be in the kitchen with his boring mom. Yes, I know it’s possible to do all of these things, but it seemed a choice was being made.
Not long ago, though, we made muffins together, and that hand mixer sure left an impression. Then last weekend, as we worked on homemade valentines, I invited him to keep crafting at the kitchen island while I started dinner. We had a guest coming over, and I had a steak dinner planned. Well, when he saw me starting to slice the yams, he was eager to participate. So much so that he didn’t even blink at having to wash his hands first.
I sliced the tubers, and he put them in the bowl. He poured olive oil and salt (soooo much salt) and ground some pepper on them too.
At this point, he was excited to help with the rest. He added spices to the cauliflower and helped to put them on a baking sheet. He also helped season the steaks. And he was eager to join me outside at the grill.
It was a wonderful night with him, but it was probably just a fluke, I thought. But then, his interest continued this weekend.
Sunday morning, he wanted to help with breakfast. And more than just his own pancakes. He even wanted to help me clean up. Talk about a little man after my own heart.
In between hash browns and bacon and pancakes, we mixed up some batter for chocolate cupcakes. Just a little fun treat, we'd said.
Later in the day, when he was playing with toys, I started to work on my buffalo wing popcorn for the Super Bowl party we were attending. He noticed me downstairs and asked to help. Admittedly, this popcorn is not something that is particularly kid-friendly. But still, we watched the kernels go into the pot on the stove, and the pop-pop was delightful for him.
For me, the Super Bowl seldom offers much interest. I mean, I'm an Arizona Cardinals fan who started life in Steeler country. So, the only game I can remember actually caring about ... these two teams were playing each other. Still, my husband's friends host a party every year, and we go. I have a beer or two (or not), and I eat some chili. This year, my son cuddled up on me for most of the game. He watched cartoons on the iPad, and I half-heartedly watched the game. At halftime, he danced along to Justin Timberlake's vocal stylings.
I know my son had fun at the party. And I know he likes attending parties with us … He likes being a part of the action. So, when I asked him about his favorite part of the day, which I always do at bedtime, I fully expected him to say the party.
But that's not what he said.
Instead, he said: Making cupcakes.
Not eating cupcakes. Not the party. Not watching three hours of cartoons while everyone else watched football. But making cupcakes.
Over and over, I am reminded that cooking with little ones in the kitchen is messier and harder and takes more time than it would if I just did it all myself. But making messes also makes memories. I can clean up the messes. But there is no replacement for the memories.