The very nature of being a child (any creature under drinking or voting age) should demand close supervision from the adult guardian at all times. Notions that children can mature and be helpful are little more than old wive’s tales. Many a parent with pride has announced to friends or colleagues at work how helpful their little wonder is and how the child can be trusted with staying home alone…only to discover later NOTHING could be further from the truth.
I recently had just such an experience. The very capable, responsible (usually) 12-year–old in my life has decided to “learn” to cook. This is not with the benefit of structure and supervision of say…a class at school or under adult supervision (i.e. husband of the year) but on their own. Self taught! So far our family has been treated to the spoils of the quest for culinary knowledge with a variety of very tantalizing treats being conjured up in the kitchen, much to the delight of the household natives. This has led me to relax my view that children unsupervised and in the kitchen spell D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R!
Several weeks have passed where the family was treated to impromptu cupcakes, cakes, soups and several rounds of breakfast-type items (toast, eggs, hot chocolate). This led to my blessing being extended (albeit without sufficient reflection on my part) to this young lady this weekend to prepare “brunch” for the family while I was totally distracted trying to catch up on mountains of housework (no…really?). The young chef kept interrupting my hurried cleaning with questions I quickly answered including the one “Is 5 eggs enough for scrambled eggs for everyone?” promptly requiring an answer from me indicating that our family of 11 (yes…I did say 11) “you need to cook one egg for everyone and an extra for the pot”-Ok, more questions, “where is the butter?” followed by” what temperature for the frying pan.” The questions were more exhausting that if I had made the meal myself. So when the little darling called up the stairs “how long do you cook bacon in the microwave?” I directed her to ask her 14-year-old brother who is the bacon master at our house. That was simple.
Happily back to cleaning when the “wanna-be cook” comes running upstairs announcing there is “a fire in the microwave”. Knowing that this child is the drama queen and has often complained of fire (seems to regularly confuse steam with smoke) I strolled quickly downstairs, (annoyed with the interruption) into the kitchen just in time to see the entire microwave filled with fire as the plate of bacon had become a platter of flames about 7 inches high. The tribe of natives were busy screaming they were going to die and running out the front door (fortunately one of them was thoughtful enough to take the baby with them). I guess the advice the 14-year-old gave was accurate, 6 minutes in the microwave but the child receiving the info had neglected to mention that she was only trying to cook two “half-strips” of bacon on a bed of paper towels.
Needless to say…that child is no longer allowed to cook anything….unsupervised. And yes, I know have a new microwave. Unbeknownst to me, prior to cooking the “half-strips” of bacon, an entire pound of butter had been melting to almost a gas as there were “no butter knives” anywhere to butter the toast. The chef-in-training thought to melt the butter to a liquid state so that a spoon could be used to butter the toast. The butter splashed all over the microwave previously then acted as the accelerant for the flash fire. Again…no butter knives….does this kid make this up as she goes along?
Well, after playing forensic investigator…sure enough. Turns out that all 20 butter knives our family possesses are in fact missing. For years I have suspected my children of throwing out some of the silverware/dishes to get the cleanup of the kitchen to happen “faster.” Still stumped as to how I could have mislaid or not noticed 20 butter knives leaving my house in a one day period. Memo to self…pick up a few random butter knives while shopping…
Days later the 5 and 7-year-old are getting ready to play in the snow (again)…when once dressed they are in the kitchen going through all the drawers. Why I ask. Well it seems that these two little fellows spent the day building snow forts, both on my front lawn and at the park…and the “butter knives” were the tool of choice. Just it kept getting lost in the snow. So they kept coming back to get more. Springtime at my house (and apparently at the park) will look like something out of a cheap movie crime scene. I wonder what the neighbors will think to find all these knives once the snow melts…then again …living close to us…nothing could surprise them. Moral of the story…missing cutlery is only the tip of the iceberg.