Thursday, September 22, 2011

SUZI: Cooper in the Kitchen

Cooper has been observing me in the kitchen since he was born.  He loves to watch me cook.  When he was just a baby, I’d put him in a bouncy seat on the floor and he would fuss and fuss and fuss until I picked him up.  He wanted to see and not be so far away from all the action.  I’d put him in his high chair and hand him toys and kitchen utensils to try to keep him occupied while I chopped and sautéed, but he still spent most of his time fussing…until I was holding him and chopping and sautéing with one hand.  

So I hold Cooper a lot while I prep food and cook (for those who are nervous at this point – I obviously keep Cooper away from dangerous things like open ovens.  He’s not playing with knives or helping me chop food, so you can relax.)  I’ve gotten pretty good at doing a lot of things in the kitchen with one hand.  Did you know you can bake a cake from scratch with one hand?  Did you know you can cut up a tomato with one hand?  Did you know you can prepare a meal for twenty people with one hand?  Yes…yes, you can.  It may take twice as long, but it is possible.  And I know that one day soon Cooper will prefer running and playing outside while I cook by myself in the kitchen, so in the meantime, I enjoy having him in there with me.  And, clearly, we discuss fractions, addition and subtraction while we measure various ingredients.

My mom has become quite the garage sale queen (Cooper has a room full of wonderful, like-new toys that my mom has found for him for dirt cheap – it’s great!).  I sent her on a mission to look for a kid’s kitchen in “boy” colors.  It took a while, but low and behold, she found a blue plastic kitchen for Coop.  Let the rejoicing begin!  We played with it together for many days and then one day while I was cooking, Cooper ran over to his kitchen and began “cooking.”  Bravo!  Exactly what I had hoped for.  It was fantastic.  

The next day, I was getting ready to make dinner and I put a little bowl of Teddy Grahams in his kitchen – bait to encourage him to play over there so I could quickly get my work done.  Once again, my genius plan worked.  He was happily whipping up some deliciousness in his kitchen while I enjoyed having the use of both of my hand.  I turned around to get some milk out of the frig, and noticed that there was something all over the floor.  “What on earth?”  Small little specs of something were everywhere.  In fact, there was a little trail that led straight to Cooper.  Who happened to be standing at his kitchen furiously shaking Mrs. Dash into his bowl of Teddy Grahams.  Obviously, at some point when I wasn’t looking, Mr. Quick-As-a-Wink snuck the Mrs. Dash out of the Lazy Susan (which he LOVES to spin around and point to all the spices – he’s probably one of the few toddlers who is learning how to say “Rice Wine Vinegar” along with “Ground Cumin”).  He had a huge grin on his face - he was so happy that he was cooking all by himself.  He had already dumped half the container of spice when I caught him.

But, seriously, how could I be mad at him?  He was doing what he’s been watching me do for 17 months.  So I simply told him that we needed to get the vacuum and clean up the mess.  At which time, Cooper squealed in delight, threw the Mrs. Dash on the floor and ran to the closet with great anticipation while we got the vacuum out.  Vacuuming happens to be one of Cooper’s favorite pastimes.  

We’re hoping this phase lasts for a looooong time.

So one day when Cooper is a great chef in a world famous restaurant, we’ll all know that it started with Teddy Grahams and Mrs. Dash.  I see a new Teddy Grahams flavor in the making, don’t you?

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