I find myself telling my boys to stop playing with their food nearly every meal. Particularly little Silas who would rather make stories out of his bisquits and soup than he would eat it.
The other day as my littlest son picked at his pasta noodles (his sauce is always separate) with his fingers and started to line them up on the table I found myself ,once again, scolding him for having his hands in his food. He sighed and looked up at me with a look of sullen disappointment and a hint of confusion. For a second my resolve to train him up into a child with manners more refined than a monkey's competed with my desire to watch him enjoy his own little world illustrated with sticky noodles. The noodles were fun to play with, and after he had played with each one it awkwardly made it's way into his mouth. After a moment of hesitation I reasserted my demand for something that resembled manners and reminded him that he had a fork. As I watched him gloomily force himself to eat I had an idea.
The next day, while the baby napped and I attempted to teach my two older children, I quickly boiled a tiny pot of spaghetti noodles. Much to his delight I served it up on a tray and told him to play with it.
He entertained himself for ages with the sticky stringy noodles. He made pictures. He made letters and attempts at words. He experimented with different ways of putting the noodles in his mouth. He wrapped up his action figures in spaghetti ropes.
There is a time and a place for everything....even playing with your food!
My oldest boy loves to cook and I have discovered I really enjoy cooking with him. I never expected that he would be the budding chef of the family.
My future daughter in law can thank me later.
By late afternoon all I want to do is send the kids into the basement to watch tv (and often that is what happens), or I bark at them to "Go play somewhere else!"..."get out of my kitchen!". I've been trying to make more of the regular mundane daily tasks like making dinner into something more meaningful. I have discovered lately that not only can the kids be a great help, it keeps them busy. Of course, I give them only age and skill appropriate tasks. Silas grated cheese for the cheesy biscuits. Roman peeled and chopped sweet potato.
As long as I'm not in a huge rush to get it done it's a great time for non formal learning time and spontaneous conversations. Roman helped me make a huge pot of something we named "Autumn soup". It seemed fitting. We made it with sausage, sweet potato, carrots, barley, onion, garlic, herbs in a tomato base (with a secret ingredient of pureed acorn squash).
It was yummy!...especially served with hot cheesy garlic whole wheat biscuits (which Silas helped me make).
I'm recapping today's dinner time so that I can remind myself later to just slow down and savor life a little more. I'm so far from a super woman it's not even funny. I need a constant reminder that, although my house may look like chaos and the clean laundry is heaped up on the couch, my most important job is to nourish my little ones well.