Yesterday was a manic day: I ran my hands through my hair to make it stand up at least seventy-three times; there was a flying visit to London (where, unrelatedly, I introduced myself to oysters for the first time, and was delighted by the experience, not least for the high level of kid-freakout-ability that such a foodstuff provides), and the whole thing was bookended by trips to two different medical emporia, The joy.
So once I was home and settled – not snowed in, not then, that looks like it’ll happen today, not sure if I’m excited or devastated, but either way, it’s coming down in Kent – I had a very hungry L2 on my hands (L1 was with a friend), and a dearth of energy to facilitate his starvation. How to occupy a very hungry five year old when dinner was a while away, since it needed preparing from scratch?
And then I hit on a cunning ruse: that tea that needed to be cooked, we could do it as a team. Activity to distract him, but at the same time keep him closely involved with the progress of his meal; and do something quietly focussed, together (these things are still treats for me, as I settle slowly into a part-time paid-work pattern).
Once L2 was over the thrill of using “the sharp small knife – the big one’s too big for me Mummy”, we made a great cooking tag-team. His job was the mushrooms, carefully cleaning them individually and then chopping them into well-sized slices, while I tackled the more risk-laden butternut squash (the butternut squash is, I find, fraught with potential preparation problems: if anyone has found a way to navigate the removal of its skin around the curved base, I would love to hear about it). We mixed the paste and coconut milk; he weighed the rice (pretty much spot-on, first time, which impressed me); and was responsible for stirring the ingredients to make sure everything was coated in the loveliness of the coconut milk / green curry past combination.
When he knew tea was coming – and he did, he’d played a key role – he was quite happy to settle to his latest distraction, drawing flags from L1′s Children’s World Atlas. Each to their own, I say – at least it isn’t causing harm to life or limb, for which, with him, I am always a little surprised, and ultimately grateful.
An added and slightly surprising benefit of this involvement was that L2 wolfed his tea, proud to eat something of his own creation. He is a terrible, fairweather eater; anything will push him to rejection, and no two eating circumstances are the same, so this was quite a breakthrough, when all’s told.