Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Kids in the Kitchen and Other Culinary Disasters

Baking with my children is always way more fun in my head than it is in real life.

Kids in the Kitchen and Other Culinary Disasters -- In my head, baking with my kids is a fun bonding experience. In reality, it's a series of flour-covered temper tantrums over who is going to lick the spoon.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Stock photo designed to make me feel guilty.
In my head, my perfectly-groomed children take turns neatly measuring and pouring the ingredients in the mixer, bonding over a sugary confection and smiling their way through a fun afternoon with Mom in the kitchen.

Or maybe that's just a picture I saw in Family Fun magazine.

In reality, baking with my children is 95% refereeing fights about whose turn it is to put ingredients in the bowl and who gets to stand on which part of the chair at the counter.

Other highlights include cringing in horror as the toddler waves around a full measuring cup of flour, and threatening bodily injury to anyone who licks their finger and sticks it back into the batter ONE MORE TIME.

I mostly blame Pinterest. See those adorable rolls shaped like fluffy bunnies! What whimsical cookies decorated to look like monsters!

Sounds like a fantastic afternoon activity  gather round, children!

When I find a fun cookie recipe in a magazine in the doctor's waiting room, I just can't help myself. My brain is screaming, "No! Don't do it!" but some mental override button gets pushed and I jot down the recipe anyway.

I'm just not good at baking with my kids. I know this about myself but I never learn my lesson. Every time, I vow this time will be different.

This time I will be patient.

This time my kids will be engaged and not fight with each other.

What trips me up is the idyllic stock images printed in magazines next to articles about baking with kids. (Google "baking with children" and you'll see what I mean.)

There's usually an unfrazzled mom beaming at two happy kids who are raptly pressing cookie cutters into the dough, obviously having a wonderful, educational time.

Kids in the Kitchen and Other Culinary Disasters -- In my head, baking with my kids is a fun bonding experience. In reality, it's a series of flour-covered temper tantrums over who is going to lick the spoon.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Cookies baked nearly to completion with nary a smudge on her white apron. 
Kids in the Kitchen and Other Culinary Disasters -- In my head, baking with my kids is a fun bonding experience. In reality, it's a series of flour-covered temper tantrums over who is going to lick the spoon.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Look at that happy sharing and teamwork.
Just what you can expect when baking with children!

If these pictures were real, the kids would be scarfing down half of the dough and contracting salmonella while their mom is distracted by a crying child who somehow got vanilla in his eye.

I know the magazine pictures aren't real.

They're photographs of random women and children who probably don't even know each other, in a fake set using props, where no actual baked goods are being made.

I know this, and yet I fall for it every time.

So my children and I embark on yet another culinary adventure that goes well for about 10 seconds before the fighting starts.

"I wanted to pour that in!" "He pushed me off the chair!"

And then there's the mess. The kids are so cavalier about pouring their ingredients.

Without thinking, I keep reaching out to steady a toddler's hand to squeals of "I do it self!" Someone is inevitably not paying attention and dumps their half-cup of sugar into the flour canister instead of the mixing bowl. Batter gets ground into the chair and the rug. Flour is everywhere. Everywhere.

Yes, we are making memories and the mess isn't really a big deal, but tell that to my twitching eye.

What I really need is to face the truth. My kids don't care about the finished product. They are there for one reason and one reason only: to lick the spatula.

If I have to tell one more person to keep their saliva out of the cookie dough I'm going to lose my mind. No doubt we'd all be happiest if I just read a book and let them go to town on a tube of refrigerated cookie dough.

Suffice it to say that cozy afternoons of baking with Mom probably won't be my kids' fondest memory of their childhoods.

That's alright with me. My eye twitches a lot less when we play board games together, anyway.

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2 comments:

  1. Jenny, you always make me laugh out loud!!
    I wasn't a cookie making mommy either. Yet lo and behold, they are both functioning adults! ;)
    Just let them have at it, and have a store bought cake in reserve for you and Phillip!

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  2. AuntSue
    The key is: 1. having the kids on the other side of the counter, island, or table. You can keep an eye on them all without them claiming all your space and oxygen. 2. Separate the project into steps, maybe one each day, mixing - shaping - baking - decorating. 3. And only give each child a ball of dough the size of your patience. (that may be very small). As a mom of 6 who loves to bake, these rules saved my sanity and the cookies.

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