Emily, Knives and the Kitchen
We often blog about cooking with our grandchildren and so you know how Emily enjoys cutting up vegetables: preparing food. On one of their visits we were working in the garden and the girls were spending their time between helping us and sitting in the house to cool off (it was 32 C and humid).
It was getting to be lunch time and we were just starting to talk about what we would make for lunch when Emily came out with a two glasses of ice water, our hearts soared with pride. What I was not expecting was what happened next. Emily came out with a plate of raw vegetables cut into nice size pieces for eating.
Emily is eight years old, too young by our standards to be using very sharp kitchen knives unsupervised. We had a choice to make in that moment: support her spirit of generosity and service or act upon our fear of what did not happen but could have.
As parents all too often we acted upon our fear and watched as children’s expectation of praise was crushed by words of fear and what 'might' have been. As Grandparents we have the luxury and wisdom that being one generation removed provides and so we thanked her for the gift she offered. We all enjoyed a glass of ice water and an appetizer of fresh vegetables in the shade and talked about what we would have for lunch.
BUT now we were left with the challenge of teaching her how to be safe when using knives and to only use knives when we are in the kitchen. This also had to be done in such a way that we did not take away from her gift but added to it her sense of personal accomplishment.
Once we were back in the kitchen and cleaning up we commented on how sharp the knife she had been using was. We then started to inquire of Emily how she used it and what safety precautions she used. In this way Emily came to her own decision that while she did not cut herself it would be best to always have an adult around when she is cutting up food or working with kitchen equipment.
Did we do the right thing? The proactive thing would have been to have set out clear rules around the kitchen when we first started to cook together. So the next time the girls come to Grandma’s house we are going to sit down and talk about the first rule in cooking with Grandma. It is always better to cook together where we can laugh, learn and keep each other safe.