A Future Chef and His Beautiful Mess

Last night, Joshua decided he wanted to help me cook dinner. I was making the delicious Garlic Chicken and Pasta Skillet and I noticed him milling around the kitchen, looking for something to do. I found a dry-erase board and a marker and let him go to town (and, remarkably, he only drew on the board and not all over my cabinets and walls!). The distraction didn’t last long, however; a few minutes later he was rummaging through my utensil drawer, where I keep my rolling pin, tongs, and plastic spoons, among other things. He pulled out a white plastic spoon and left the kitchen.

I was busy cooking the chicken for the skillet, so I didn’t noticed that he’d walked into the dining room. He dropped the spoon on the seat of a chair, grabbed the back of the chair, and dragged it into the kitchen. I looked over to see him climbing up on the chair, spoon in hand, and looking at the pot of pasta boiling away on the stove. With no direction from me, he looked over the pot, then at his spoon, and then back at the pot…and stuck the spoon into the water and began to stir.

Such a cute little helper. (And yes, I know I should have turned the chair around. That was my mistake, but he

As he stirred, I talked him through what he was doing. “Put the white spoon into the water, Joshua, and be careful so your hand doesn’t touch the water or the pot. They’re hot!” “See what you’re doing? This is called stirring. You’re helping the noodles to keep from sticking together.” “OK, let’s stop stirring for a minute. Mommy’s going to take a noodle out with a fork so we can test it and see if it’s ready to eat.”

Naturally, he loved helping me taste-test the pasta.

When the chicken was done, I drained the pasta and poured it into the skillet, but I held off on adding parsley. I decided Joshua should be the one to do it. I poured some into a small dish, stood behind Joshua and held the dish over the skillet. Joshua reached up and helped me turn the dish over, and the parsley rained over the skillet….

…and a little bit rained onto the chair he was standing on. And the floor. And the oven knob he was standing in front of.

But that’s okay. It was a minor mess easily taken care of with the help of a pan and broom (which Joshua helped me to use, too). The mess was well worth it because Joshua learned a valuable skill and clearly enjoyed helping me to prepare dinner. It wasn’t worth getting angry over. It was a beautiful mess, one that I was so proud of that it actually brought tears to my eyes.

Looks like Joshua will be helping me cook more often! I’m looking forward to the bonding time.

Happy Friday, everyone.