Say hello to Christopher, my 12-year-old son.
You know when you’re pregnant and imagining the life your as-yet-unborn little darling will have, invariably you picture cliched, storybook images.
Cooing baby wriggling in crib, vastly entertained by mobile.
Absorbed toddler builds with blocks on the floor.
Darling preschooler colors within the lines.
Diligent student brings home A’s.
Successful graduate lands dream job.
You know how it goes. Along the way, you expect that a kid’s personality will emerge and he or she will start doing whatever it is that interests them. And, if you’re lucky, some of those interests will mirror your own. But I never imagined I’d spawn a chef.
It started about like you’d expect: a hungry impatient kid whining around about dinner. “When are we going to eeeeeeeeeeeeat?”
“Well, if you’d like to help out, I’m sure dinner will be ready a lot quicker!” you respond brightly, hoping your enthusiastic tone conveys every ounce of joy that may be discovered in the culinary arts.
After a few years of eye-rolling, apparently a little bit started rubbing off on him and look, I’ve got a helper in the kitchen. Nightly, he chops tomatoes or eggplant, he shred lettuce for salads. He’s currently begging to “mince something.” Meat to be browned? He’s right there poking it apart in the skillet.
And last Sunday he petitioned to be allowed to make pumpkin bread, a project cut short by the fact that there was no pumpkin in the house. Undeterred, he consulted the cookbook and discovered that muffins were doable, and that is what he made. Blueberry muffins that turned into mixed-berry muffins when he found that’s what the suggested bag of blueberries in the freezer actually was.
So now I have a helper in the food-preparation business, along with a dishwasher-unloader and table-setter in the person of Claire, who performs these duties spectacularly each weeknight.
Ahhh. Shared time in the kitchen and actual, real, unadulterated assistance. Dinners taste so much better nowadays.