A few weeks ago, over drinks, my friends and I were talking about our long lists of things we'd like to do over the Summer. Not just the usual, work in the yard more, organize the kitchen cabinets, file all the paperwork, get the dogs teeth cleaned and power wash the driveway kind of stuff, but some fun things like go into the city for ice cream at Salt and Straw, go for a hike in the gorge, pick blueberries, have dinner with husbands, without kids.
One of my friends said, "We've decided to have the girls make dinner once a week". Her girls are a Freshman and Sophomore. She told them to give her a list for the shopping and plan the family meal. Brilliant! I have a Freshman, Junior and 5th grader, surely they should be able to pull off one dinner a week. Right?
At dinner a few days later we were having our usual family meeting forum. What did you do today?, what's on for tomorrow?, the long term plans coming up are................. so I broke it to them. One meal a week, they needed to get together and decide on a menu and get their grocery list to me by Monday, grocery shopping day. They must include a vegetable and a salad - groans and eye rolling, oh well that was to be expected. I informed them that Thursdays would be their night.
Thursday is the only night of the week my husband and I both work. Our other days are staggered because that still works the best with kids transportation etc. So both of us arriving home simultaneously and the kids clamoring, 'What's for dinner'? when they have been home all day, not doing the list of chores that was left for them, while the dog dances around underfoot in the kitchen hoping to be fed is not always a Norman Rockwell worthy scene.
Yesterday was the inaugural 'Kids Cook Thursday'. They had chosen a pasta that my daughter had assisted with before so they were familiar with the prep and process. Whole wheat fettuccine with a lemon pepper Alfredo sauce. They had also decided on some green beans, bratwurst and artisan rolls from Trader Joe's. Most exciting of all while shopping at Trader Joe's the sample was a spinach salad with blue cheese, pecans, dried cranberries and a raspberry vinaigrette. They actually liked it! Despite continual complaints when I try to put some spinach in the salad! Best of all it was a salad kit and they could do it themselves! Score!
So, yesterday after work I came home and the kids were milling around in the kitchen gathering their stuff. I sidled up the the breakfast bar with my computer and some work to do so I was able to direct and supervise a little. The older two have a tendency to try and have the 5th grader do all the work so a bit of delegation was in order. I have to say watching your 10 year old wield a sharp knife to prep the green beans when he is already sporting a band aid on his finger from God - knows - what is a little nerve racking. Was I able to sit back with my feet up and have a cocktail? No, but I was not in charge of the meal, they were open to advice, enjoying using the stove, oven and Lord help us, cutlery.
No fingers were lost, the meal was good right down to the 'trying new things' salad. My husband and I did not feel like we had to race home and rush around. We all came to the table relaxed and ready to eat. All in all a success!
We may miss the simplicity of not having teenagers and a tween, but it is great to see them move into new more responsible roles as individuals as well as members of our family.