If you've never tried cooking with your kid, let me be the first to tell you that everything you know is a lie. Sure, stock photos and Pinterest make it look like a magical family-bonding time, but believe me when I say it's a damn dumpster fire in real life. Those biscuits won't seem like such a good idea when your toddler falls off the stool and mixes her snot and tears into the dough. But being in the kitchen is good for little ones, so we'll forgive the gross things every mom does when cooking with her kid.
My husband is normally on "kid duty" when he gets home from work, so I can get dinner ready. When he was deployed for a year, though, I had to figure out how to entertain our daughter on my own and during meal prep. That meant my daughter was tasked with "helping." As a 1-year-old, she was pretty content to bang on pots and pans with a wooden spoon on the floor, but as a fully mobile and increasingly verbal toddler, she wanted in on the action. She really liked me to break off pieces of whatever I was making for her to eat, but mincing garlic in the chopper or depositing sprinkles in any available crevice were her activities of choice.
I didn't really learn to cook (as in, something that didn't come in a box) until I was in my 30s, so it's really important to me to involve my kid in the process and art of food preparation. It's great, really, but sanitization, not to mention my sanity, has taken a hit. I just I can't help but do the following things that I'm convinced (read: someone lie and tell me it's true) every mom does when cooking with her kids:
She Employs The Five Second Rule
If your kid is helping you in the kitchen, stuff is going to get dropped. It could be a legitimate accident or an "on purpose" (incidentally, both are considered "uh-ohs" in toddler land), but sh*t will hit the floor. Murphy's Law being what it is, it will probably be a food item, delicious side down. Moms are not about wasting food, so pardon us while we give that slice of green pepper a little rinse before we put it in your fajita.
She Forgets Which Pots & Pans Are For Playing
My great-grandma always had a special drawer with kitchen utensils we little kids were allowed to play with. I, however, am not at a point in my life where I can have that many "extras." This means that, occasionally, I find myself needing to scrape a bowl, but I'm not entirely certain which spatula has been in the baby's mouth. Sure, I could wash both, but I like to live dangerously.
She Reuses Spoons
I know this would get me kicked off Hell's Kitchen, but I absolutely reuse the tasting spoon. Taste, stir, taste, stir. I'm a mom, which means I wash dishes and do laundry at a constant clip, so anything that saves me even a few minutes is happening. If you're having dinner at my house, "made with love" means it probably has my germs in it.
She Uses The Dish Towel To Wipe A Snotty Nose
When my kid has a case of the green elevens, I will grab anything close by to wipe her nose. It could be my sleeve, or even my bare hand. When I'm in the kitchen, if there's a towel in reach I'll use that and hope it's not the one I just utilized to clean up that chili spill. Don't worry, I'm pretty sure I put it in the dirty towel basket when I was done.
She Tastes Mystery Substances
What is that spot on the counter? Is it soup? Is it vomit? Is it soup my kid vomited? Only one way to find out. Sometimes I don't even really need to know, but curiosity gets the best of me and I sample it to find out. That's how I found out what day-old curry-covered jasmine rice tastes like. Honestly, I was just relieved it wasn't a dried out maggot.
She Wipes The Spill Back Into The Bowl
Look, kids are the worst at cracking eggs, and I'll be damned if I let a single one of those organic motherf*ckers go to waste. I'm just going to ease that yolk and as much of the white as I can back into the mixing bowl. It's OK. I cleaned my counters. Last Tuesday. And I'm 90 percent sure my kid's bare butt hasn't been on it since then.
She Lets Her Kid Touch Food Items
Yes, I wash my child's hands before I let her help, but that thumb is constantly going in her mouth (and less slightly less frequently, the finger in the nose). Basically, anything my child has touched is tainted. I'm not going to go so far as to say it's unfit for human consumption, but it's cleaner than the piece of pumpkin pie we covered in Cool Whip and served my dad after my cat licked the top off. Now, who's hungry?
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