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KP Duty Means Kid Patrol Too

Kids hate to be put on the spot.    As they grow older and more independent, they will naturally resist telling you their business.  At the same time they need your guidance and supervision.  So it takes some finesse on your part to keep informed and involved.

This won't happen if you rush home from work and plunk the kids down in front of the TV or video game while you fix dinner.  

Nor will it happen if you retire to your room while making the kids clean the kitchen.   Too tired?  Sit in the kitchen and do mending/ accounting/ shoe polishing/ your manicure/ whatever while they clean up the mess.  Make yourself a part of their lives and them a part of yours.

Years ago in rural settings and still in many parts of the world, children were in the company of their parents and other relatives and neighbors most of the day and night.  They learned from them not only how to work and how to take care of themselves, but social development, moral values and the history of their family and the tribe, village and/or nation.  They learned what to expect of others and what was expected of them.   Even in the early days of industrial development, children often worked alongside their parents in factories or cottage industries, often resulting in a grim childhood but one that never-the-less prepared them for the realities of their future, no matter how bleak.

I'm somewhat uneasy with the current trend towards insisting that the schools instill social and moral values in the nation's children.  Who is going to define and police the teaching of those values?  I personally have known some teachers whose moral values were probably found in the sewer.  In former times, this moral training was partly the community's job together with the the parents', although it's true that some parents (who probably should have been sterilized at an early age) are more abusive than instructive.  Unfortunately, in today's society, both parents usually need to work and the children are left outside the equation to a great extent.  This can be remedied, no matter what their age.  Tell them,  "Wanna eat?  So do I.  Let's do it together!" 

There's a number of advantages in requiring your children to help in the kitchen, almost as soon as they can walk:

  1. It will assist in making them feel they are are part of the family, responsible to and for the familial unit,

  2. It teaches them to be helpful and take other people's needs (yours) into consideration,

  3. They will learn some basics about cooking, serving and cleaning up after a meal, something that's vitally needed and often overlooked,

  4. They will appreciate a meal more if they help in its preparation, especially if you let them help make choices. 

  5. They will learn to experiment with and enjoy eating a wider variety of foods, and learn what a healthy, varied diet consists of,

  6. Most important, it gives them and you a low-pressure time for communication.  Kids-- especially boys-- talk about private issues and items of concern easier when their hands are occupied.  They feel less like they are on trial or being examined when your hands and eyes are occupied.  

The old adage about the kitchen being the heart of the home isn't just an idle saying by the forever hungry.   The ancient kitchen historically represented both the physical and emotional warmth of the household.  This is where people came to take the chill out of their bones and recharge both their physical and mental batteries. 

My kids learned spelling, multiplication tables, Spanish and the elements from flash cards while I was cooking.  My mother explained the "birds and the bees" to me while helping me make a Cherries Jubilee Cake (an unintended pun, I'm sure).   She explained menstruation to one of my sisters, an early developer prior to nine years of age, over dishwashing.   I told my mother about my first and untimely pregnancy while setting the table.  My nearly 13-year old brother, while assisting with dinner preparation, informed my parents that despite their strict prohibition against dancing or attending one, he was never-the-less going to attend a  school dance (they were so surprised they let him).   

If you think back, you'll realize that many momentous announcements and serious discussions have taken place in your kitchen while going about the daily business of preparing food.  Give your kids a chance to learn from you (and you to learn from them).  Bring them into the kitchen during meal preparation-- at least once every day.

One more note:  while at mealtime, keep the topics to pleasant subjects; this is good manners and better for one's digestion.  The previous advice applies to preparation and clean-up, not the actual meal!

Funny things happen in the kitchen too.  Read about Grandma Williamson and the Railroad Depot.


The Sneaky Kitchen
Web Site by Bess W. Metcalf   Copyrightę April 1999 - 201

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