So I’ve spent the last couple of days beating myself up for instances of visible frustration with my kids. Perhaps it is just party after glow, but I feel like I found peace of mind (at least for today) in the form of letting fifteen kids destroy my house in the process of cooking.
My toddler group had its’ final session for our five part series exploring the senses. Today was taste, and we had a massive “Kids Cook” session. Older siblings are out of school for winter break, so we invited them to join the fun.
I set up three stations, each with a kid-friendly recipe to prepare- fruit salad, kale chips, and mini pizzas. The idea was for moms and kids to rotate through the stations and prepare all the three dishes.
We started the session by talking about the word recipe and what it means to follow a recipe. One of the other moms had donated aprons for all the kids. We tied on our aprons, washed our hands, and started preparing our food. I didn’t get a ton of pictures because it was really chaotic, but I managed to snap a few.
Prior to the event, I sent an email to the group, asking for help in keeping the stations under control and keeping an extra eye on their little ones. Kids are known for messes and when you get pizza sauce and flour involved, it can be a recipe for disaster.
When rotating through the stations, the kids were wonderful. They listened to instructions and were eager to participate. Once the cooking was over, things went off the rails.
I purchased an air popper at the thrift store. My boys and I tested it out yesterday and had a blast. I knew one little girl in particular wanted to make some popcorn. I had to bring it out for the kids.
I put the popper in the middle of an empty plastic sandbox I had cleaned out. The lid was off the popper so the kids could see the corn as it spun around and began to burst. The corn fell into the sandbox, and the kids shoveled handfuls into their mouths with delight.
A few minutes later, I looked across my kitchen and resigned myself to an afternoon of cleaning. The counters were littered with pizza pans, fruit bowls, and kale remnants. Toys had exploded across the floor, mixed with crushed popcorn and sea salt. I had expected this, so I wasn’t upset. I simply went into the other room to enjoy playing with the kids while they were there.
While I broke out the toy instruments for an impromptu jam session, the moms cleaned up the mess. I knew they were tidying up because they asked me for various cleaning items from time to time, but I did not know they were completing the entire job. When I walked back into my kitchen, it was as if the morning had never happened. I contemplated the event and how it came together due to the help of the entire group. Some moms offered financial donations to cover the cost, others brought food items to contribute. Everyone pitched in to guide the kids. They showed their appreciation of my set up by ensuring I didn’t have to clean up.
My blood family may live in another state, but I am far from being without family support. These women love me, encourage me and always have my back. I am a better mom for knowing them. By coming together, we are creating a tapestry, each family a thread weaving with the next to create a blanket of love and security.
I’m sure when my kids look at their own tapestries, they are going to notice a few frayed edges and broken threads. But I hope, on the whole, they see the many individual people and experiences that came together to envelop them in warmth and comfort. I hope they focus on the day Mom let them pop corn in the sandbox, and not the time she shouted “enough” over their inability to share.
Yes, I get annoyed with them. And they with me. That’s probably not going to change anytime soon. We don’t get it right every second of every day. But I think most of the threads in our tapestry are brightly colored, richly woven, and capable of lasting a lifetime.
As a side note, I want to add that in addition to the wonderful moms that were here today, I also had the help of my mother-in-law. As you can imagine, having an extra adult on hand for these events is a help beyond measure. She makes it possible for me to plan activities like these. She acts as a grandmother to all the kids, and we just love her. I am spoiled to have her around, even if it is only half the year. Thank you Sandy!