I was reminded the other night that sometimes it easier when you engage rather than oppose your toddler / preschooler. He wanted to play, but I really had to get supper made. So I asked if he would like to help me. To sweeten the deal I said … “You can use a knife.” Of course he couldn’t resist. Before you go all crazy about me letting my 3 year old use a knife, let me elaborate. I was making Pad Thai with tofu and it just so happens that you can cut firm tofu with a butter knife. I set him up with a knife, a cutting board and a block of tofu and let him cut slices. He was thrilled. So much so, that when he was done I told him the recipe called for a banana too (white lie). Then he wanted to do another job with a ‘different tool.’ I thought for a moment and then it came to me… the olive pitter. Now, Pad Thai doesn’t actually need bananas or olives, but if it helps give me time to get supper made a few olives won’t go astray. If you haven’t seen one of these nifty gadgets they are available at the Paderno store, have no sharp pointy parts and work on cherries too. My kid could pit olives all day, which is actually quite helpful for pizza and pasta dishes. So I gave him a bowl of olives and off he went. When he got bored of that I ran out of ideas. He wasn’t happy; he went to the kitchen gadget drawer looking for another ‘tool’ to use. I was able to dissuade him by putting supper on the table.
A couple of nights later I was in a similar predicament so I asked him if he wanted to help wash dishes. There were a number of items that wouldn’t fit in the dishwasher and again, he was thrilled to help. In fact, I had to pull more dishes out of the dishwasher when he ran out of things to wash. I showed him how to use the detergent, scrub pots, turn on the water, check for a safe temperature, and rinse.
Helping me cook dinner and wash dishes will probably lose its novelty before he turns 6, but for now I will take full advantage of the learning opportunity it offers… for both of us.