The results may not be pretty, but with practice, a child’s household skills do improve.
My daughter encourages eagerness. So when Katie, 3, shoved the chair to the counter at my house saying, “I wanna help cook” I said, “you can cut up these peaches.”
“I have to wash my hands first,” she held out her hands for the ritual before taking the knife to cut fruit. She finished and watched me measure waffle mix, “I wanna help.”
“Okay.” I placed the bowl of waffle mix in the sink so she could stir without splattering everywhere.
“Do you know how to break an egg?” She nodded, took the egg and smashed it on the counter.
“I guess you haven’t done that very often,” I mumbled. I tossed the shell in the trash, scooped up egg goo and added it to the waffle batter. She stirred, splashed batter and announced, “It’s done.”
I gave it another swirl and poured it on the waffle iron.
When her sisters and brother asked if they could do a chore and earn a couple dollars, I said, “Will you wash the bathroom and kitchen floors?” I hate that chore. They agreed, took turns filling a bucket and scrubbing floors on their hands and knees.
At their mom’s insistence they also, for no pay, set the table, cleared the dishwasher and swept the floor. Everyone has to do a chore everyday at their house.
Katie’s chore is to match up and put away clean silverware. She emphatically told me, “I do not like to take care of the silverware.” I already knew that. I have seen her fuss about the simple task.
No pouts though when cooking begins. She shoves her chair close, “I wanna help.”
“Okay, you can help me make 7-Up biscuits.” I gathered biscuit mix, sour cream and lemon-lime soda.
“I need an apron.” she informed me.
I found the pink apron her mom had tied on her the day before and slipped it over her head. I pulled the strings around to tie in front.
“It’s not s’posed to be like that.”
I re-tied it in the back.
“It’s too tight.”
I loosened it. Satisfied, she waited while I plopped sour cream on top of the biscuit mix and handed her a chopper to mix it all together.
She tapped the chopper lightly into the biscuit mix. Flour flew out of the bowl to the counter. I swept it back into the bowl and helped her finish mixing.
“Now let’s pour in the soda.”
Katie poured and watched the soda foam across the top of the biscuit mix. We stirred it again. “Now we have to knead the dough,” I scraped it all onto a well floured pastry sheet. Katie touched the dough and pulled her hand back, “It’s sticky!”
“Yes, it is. Let’s add a bit more flour,” I said and began kneading it into the mix.
“I wanna help,” Katie kneaded the dough. Looked at her hands and said, “I need to wash my hands.”
“You need to rub your hands with flour,” I said.
The sticky disappeared and we patted out dough to cut biscuits. She aimed the cutter for the middle of the dough. I directed her hand to the edge of the dough.
She cut. I lifted raw biscuits to the pan.
She aimed for the middle of the dough again. I moved her hand to the edge of the dough again.
The third time she began at the edge of the dough and after cutting it insisted, “I want to put it in the pan.”
It wasn’t a perfect biscuit, but it was her biscuit that went into the oven to bake. While it baked, we added ham and jam, and the breakfast Katie had helped make was ready to eat.