Her love of cooking is theoretical, a fanciful idea she has, like saying you love Mexican food because you serve Tostitos Scoops with your Italian hoagie.
There were no photos staged or taken. No cutesy videos either. Not a single sight or sound constructed or reconstructed to share with the world. A tree goes boom, whether anyone is there to hear it fall or not. There was only my 7-year-old daughter and I righting a wrong in the kitchen.
Just the two of us sweating it out on an unseasonably warm evening, making chicken parm from scratch. Egg wash, panko, frying pan, sauce, cheese, oven. You know the drill. But she didn’t. I needed to correct that parenting fail. This is why I am now letting my kids cook dinner.
Mouse said, randomly as she often will, during our last trip that she “loves to cook.” Those three quickly muttered words were a 10-inch chef’s knife into my heart.
What have I done? Her love of cooking is theoretical, a fanciful idea she has, like saying you love Mexican food because you serve Tostitos Scoops with your Italian hoagie. I don’t invite my daughters, either of them, into my kitchen nearly enough to justify such a declarative statement of love. When I do, they mime the actions, pouring in already portioned amounts of this or that, stir and then run off to continue playing. That is no more cooking than reciting the alphabet is writing a book.
Things changed on Tuesday night, with the chicken parmesan, diced fresh veggie medley, pasta and naan. Wednesday night, too: buttermilk banana pecan pancakes. She cooked, in the real sense of the word. She chopped with the chef’s knife. She did it all, no play acting. She was in the weeds.
I’m not gonna say this is some cosmic shift in how I parent. She and/or I might fall back into our regularly scheduled programing. Or maybe we’ll have a disagreement about how to pinch salt atop the haricot verts. It all might go to hell in a flash, but this feels real good right now.
And right now is the currency I trade in as a dad. I can’t alter the past and the only way to impact the future is by doing the work right now — today. I am changing my routine, one that has had me alone in the kitchen prepping, cooking and cleaning, because my little girl loves to cook. Cook she shall.