I’m making flapjacks this afternoon. As baking goes it’s pretty low maintenance.
So I decide to get my son involved. He’s always nagging me to let him help out in the kitchen.
But I decide today’s the day when I’ll really let him help. Not just get him to pose for a picture with the wooden spoon and then send him off to watch Danger Mouse; but to truly get his hands messy.
Which is a challenge for me. The kitchen is my zone and in it I do things my way. I don’t accept help in there easily and family and friends know not to offer.
The last time I let my son loose in the kitchen he looked over the side of the mixing bowl into my chocolate cake mixture. My anxiety levels soared.
With a mischievous smile he asked if he could try a bit.
I reluctantly agreed.
Then he sneezed directly into the bowl, rendering all the contents unusable.
Today we start with me trying to explain how the scales work and allowing him to measure out the oats and butter. It’s messy and some oats spill on the floor, but nothing too traumatic.
Mixing is a different matter. Great dollops of the oaty mess spill over the sides of the bowl like waves crashing over the top of a sea defence wall.
He enjoys adding the golden syrup. Unfortunately when I tell him ‘enough’ he keeps squeezing the jar as he moves away from the bowl, leaving a sticky trail behind him like a slug.
I can feel the vein behind my left eye begin to twitch, but I force myself to keep encouraging him and praising him.
Placing the gooey mixture into the baking tray is a partial success, in that some actually goes in.
The end result which emerges from the oven is surprisingly successful, if a touch unstable because of the over-exuberant addition of too much syrup. It falls apart when we try to eat it but my son is too flushed with the success of his achievement to notice or mind.
The floor is a different matter, although in fairness the butter between my toes works as a useful magnet for attracting all the rogue oats and sugar granules.
He wants to bake something else but I gently advise him that it would be difficult to top the flapjacks. We’ll leave it for another day.
In truth I had to work very hard to let him do it without taking control myself. To let him make his own mistakes.
It occurs that me that doing kiddie things with him comes a lot easier than him doing grown-up things with me.
He enjoyed his baking experience today and will be a little bit better next time. But he’ll always do it his way, not my way.
He learnt a little bit about doing it for himself.
More importantly I learnt a little bit about letting him.