Ram is the quintessential Pig Will of our house. He loves to participate in chores, big and small, and in particular hearts cooking. Time will tell whether he is in it for the novelty or for the love of it. But for now, I am lapping it all up. While on the surface having him as my little helper in the kitchen offers bonding opportunities, the underlying benefits are numerous. The child learns about safety – I should not touch food if steam is coming mama? Hot pots can burn you mama? little kids cannot use big people knife, only butter knife, right mama? Then he gets to practice some math – mama, is it a pinch or a spoon of turmeric? can I dump all the water or should I pour little by little? How many red peppers should I count for the soup? It teaches him patience – you have to wait till the oil is hot to put the mustard in, ok? You have to wait till amma finishes chopping and then you can put them in the pathiram. We can turn the dosai only after it is done on one side. And finally, it teaches him the value of doing something with his own hands and bask in the glory of it.
What made tonight’s dinner preparation even more special is Hari wanting to join the fun. I let him chop the veggies with regular knife. I confess that I was nervous, it took a lot of willpower to stop myself from wanting to grab the knife from him. We survived. He learnt to hold the knife the right away, cut decent size veggies, and I did more than fine letting him have that sense of control. Ram poured in the broth, and added salt while Hari added some olive oil and came up with suggestions on how to make it more flavorful – do you think you could add herbs to the soup? do you want to add some cumin seeds to it?
All in all, the extra serving of enthusiasm and eagerness made the dinner extra delicious!