Last week I took my three-year-old to the grocery store and let him do the shopping. I told him that whatever he put in the cart we’d buy and that when we got home he could cook it however he wanted: he was the chef and I was going to be his assistant. I’d love to take credit for this idea, but it was actually something I’d seen on a YouTube video. For anyone who watches the television show Supernatural, Misha Collins (Castiel) has a hilarious series of videos of him cooking with his toddler called Cooking Fast and Fresh With West. They are worth a look if you want a chuckle.
I’d watched Misha’s adorable toddler cooking videos about six months earlier and thought, there’s no way my son would be interested in that. I’d suggested it to him a couple times over the last few months with not even the tiniest spark of interest from my son. Oh well. I filed it under “maybe with the next kid” along with the homemade Play Doh, elaborate sensory games, and food crafts I’d seen on Pinterest.
My son has his own unique interests and no matter how hard I push him he isn’t going to enjoy making a snowman out of marshmallows or a rainbow out of colored pasta. Honestly, I can’t really blame him.
So, I was very pleasantly surprised last week when I suggested to my son, who was refusing to climb off the toilet and accompany me to the grocery store, that he do the shopping and the cooking, and he leapt off the toilet excitedly. Huzzah!
The shopping went better than I could have hoped. He selected a variety of foods with both comic and nutritional value. I was composing the blog posts I’d write about his experiences feverishly in my mind as we pulled into the driveway with our groceries. While my husband unpacked, I sat down and composed the shopping portion of my new pet writing project (click HERE to read). My mind was racing. If this post went well I could make it a regular series on my blog, I could branch out into crafts as well as cooking, and maybe I could even think about taking on the dreaded video blog entries.
Everything seemed possible and I patted myself on the back for my cleverness and ingenuity.
That is, until I got back downstairs and asked my son, who was by now engrossed in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, if he was ready to cook.
Yeah, that went well.
I was planning to post the cooking half of my project on the blog later in the week, so I had a few days to wait. Maybe he was just tired. So, I waited. The next day I asked and received the same response, only this time he ran and hid after shouting “no” in my face. I began to worry that I’d made blog promises that my son wasn’t going to honor.
Each day that went by, his stash of groceries dwindled, as did his interest in anything to do with cooking or shopping. I ate his Doritos, we cooked the chicken because it was about to expire, the baby chewed on the orange, and the three-year-old had the oatmeal for breakfast. With every mouthful of randomly purchased food I felt my cleverly crafted blog series slipping through my fingers. So close.
I was frustrated with my son. Most kids would love the chance to make a mess in the kitchen. What was his problem?
That’s when it happened: I realized that I was trying so hard to be a creative and perfect mother that I was trying to force enriching activities down my son’s throat until he choked on them. I hadn’t set out to compare my son to the child of a Hollywood actor or anyone else’s child, for that matter. I’d simply seen something that looked fun on the internet and tried to get my son involved in the joy of something other than a cartoon mouse.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the line I got too excited about my own enjoyment of the activity and lost site of the fact that he’d lost interest in the game back at the grocery store. He’d had a wonderful time shopping for the food and that probably should have been enough. Now that I pushed the cooking end of the project so obsessively, he might not even want to do the shopping again. There is a fine line between observing other people’s children for inspiration and comparing them. I guess I tripped over that line at some point.
So for all of you who read my post last week and were excited to see what my son cooked up in the kitchen, I’m sorry. I will tell you that we all thoroughly enjoyed the spoils of his trip: I hoarded the Doritos while ordering my son (with cheesy fingers) to eat his carrot sticks, the baby ate the corn still frozen from the bag, my husband enjoyed the stuffed chicken for his lunches at work, and everyone had pink milk to drink the other evening before bed.
The bacon-flavored Ritz crackers are still up for grabs though; so if anyone is interested, just let me know!