We're well into self-isolation, and by sheer accident and boredom, I've started teaching my 11-year-old son the basics of cooking. What's funny is that while I know it's such a vital life skill to have, I hadn't really given any thought to when or how I would teach him to be more self-sufficient in the kitchen. As the days of self-isolating grew into weeks (along with the endless requests for snacks and meals), I can concede that, yes, necessity is definitely the mother of invention!
What started off as a lazy venture for me to outsource some of my meal-making duties has quickly evolved into a really educational and fun activity for my preteen son and me to do together. So far we've worked on learning how to crack an egg, chop onions, and knead pizza dough. As the days have progressed, though, he's taken a keen interest in learning more things around the kitchen, like how to use the stove or the oven. We're even working on loading the dishwasher now since he's already aced the unloading part!
It makes me feel so proud, as a mom, to know I'm teaching my son the essential skills he needs to cook for himself. I've always found that self-sufficiency is such an important skill to help foster confidence, and I can say that I'm now seeing how much of a difference it's made for my preteen. Once we get into the groove of things, I'm going to start teaching him more complicated dishes, like how to make pasta (with sauce and meat!) or an omelet with sautéed onions and mushrooms. We're starting to sift through recipes online and find the ones that interest him. Even when he picks more complex ones, I don't discourage him from trying them out. Being on the cusp of becoming a teenager, there really isn't anything I would deter him from attempting. For now, we stick to any culinary experiment (with proper adult supervision)!
It's fascinating to recognize how the American school systems have evolved away from teaching basic life skills to focusing more on set curriculum. When I was growing up in the 1990s, high schools had home economic classes where I first learned how to break an egg or sew a button back on. As pointless as it may have seemed back then, these were pretty essential for me when it came to learning how to adult. Prior to self-isolating, I hadn't really given much thought to teaching my son his way around the kitchen. I don't know if I overlooked it because he's a boy or simply because there was always so much going on in the "normal days" (I hope it was the latter, as I've always tried to raise my kids without gender stereotypes).
Whatever the case, I'm glad I'm doing it now. I think it's a vital life skill for children to know how to cook for themselves and be comfortable in a kitchen. And though the cabin fever is running high some days in our home, I'm grateful for this time when I was given this wonderful opportunity to teach my child how to cook alongside with me.