Getting out of the kitchen

by little red pen

IMAG4086We had a little revolution in the kitchen this week. First of all, the boys worked out a menu for the week, which meant that I didn’t face the daily trauma of figuring out what to cook, what to buy, what to use up, etc.

Ideally I would saunter down to my local shops of an afternoon, basket in hand, select the freshest and most delicious vegetables, fish, meat, breads on offer, then whip up an elegant little feast in my calm and orderly kitchen. Unfortunately, very few of those adjectives apply round here, I can’t afford the nouns, and the verbs aren’t really how I roll. So the menu was helpful, decorative, and came in at budget.

Hooray for you, my boys.

Then, last night, the boys offered to cook bruschetta. We had a rocky start, with both children pushing past their screen-time limit and then demanding hallway soccer before cooking started. I sliced and oiled the bread, which would have been easy if it hadn’t been frozen — cutting frozen bread makes me crankier than a bear in a beehive. The boys started well, washing their hands, putting on aprons, getting out toppings. But it all fell apart at cutlery, with separate disagreements over forks, knives and spoons. The Cat stormed off, the Rabbit asserted moral superiority, and I started thinking about beer.

My next move, however, was a rare and delicious moment of parenting genius. I offered to get out of the kitchen and leave them to it. And, behold, that was all they needed. I sat in my office and finished my book, and the boys put out all the toppings, cut up carrot without losing any fingers, made a pot of hot water (covered with a tea cosy), set the table, and called me in time to toast the bread and help open cans.

And I guess it was a reminder to get out of the way more often. To step back from the refereeing and the negotiation and see what they can do. To let their relationship find its own ground, its own workings. A reminder to trust and a reminder to make space. And a reminder to tend to myself too, to read, to complete, to breathe.