Sunday 25 Sep 2016

Kitchen Help
Jennifer Flaten

A strange sound reaches my ears. I look up from my book and listen. Huh, that strange sound is actually no sound at all. At some point, while I was hiding behind my book it became completely quiet.

Yah! The magical glowing box worked. Oh, how I love the soporific effects of the TV. The kids are staring glassy eyed at the dancing images on the screen and for the first time in hours, there is no squealing, no pinching and no one accusing anyone of "looking" at them.

Whoo hoo, now's my chance! I slowly close my book and slide off the couch. I carefully make my way through the maze of toys on the floor, carefully avoiding the singing hamster.

I tiptoe towards the kitchen, at any moment I expect lights and sirens to go off.

Phew, I made it; no one even noticed my escape. As quietly as I can, I begin to pull out the necessary pots and pans for supper preparation. I am pleased to have the entire kitchen to myself.

Unfortunately, the kids have a special radar that tells them when I am doing something even remotely food related. It isn't long before a child staggers into the kitchen blinking in the harsh light and asks suspiciously "What are you doing?"

Ah crap, I know if I answer "making dinner' they will ask the question I dread the most "Can I help?" I mumble something that maybe, kind of sounds like "making dinner" if you are listening closely.

To my dismay, the kid is actually listening, because she immediately asks those three little words.

I stifle the urge to yell "No, not over my dead body." Now, I know this sounds harsh, but I prefer to prepare dinner alone.

Yes, I am well aware that parenting experts encourage you to do things with your kids. Trust me; I do many things with them. It's just that I prefer not to do this particular thing with them.

Until you see them in the kitchen, you have no idea, what it's like. All the pushing, the shoving and the race to see who can beat the eggs the fastest-which as you can imagine ended very, very badly.

Trust me I tried. Oh, lord, how I tried. It's just no use, once the children enter the kitchen they morph into octopi. They crowd around me, jostling, poking and shoving with arms flailing everywhere.

Something simple like stirring the pot becomes a full contact event. There are cries of favoritism ad someone always ends up in tears, and, no, it isn't always me.

Besides, about half way through the cooking process the kid invariably gets bored and wanders off.

It doesn't help that the kids frequently watch Food Network, which at first seems like a great alternative to Hannah Montana and Sponge Bob. That is until the kids start buzzing around the kitchen giving me cooking advice.

Let me tell you, it is damn hard to take cooking advice from someone who can't even reach the top of the stove.

Actually, the whole Food Network thing, begins to seem like an incredibly bad idea when I serve the meal and the kids take a taste and begin commenting on it ala Iron Chef.

I really don't appreciate losing points for not plating it properly. I mean isn't it enough that I serve it on real plates? What do these kids expect-parsley?

How can I take their criticism seriously when they can't remember what the main dish is? I can't tell you how many times during the meal I have to tell them what it is they are eating. They will take a bite, chew, swallow and then ask, "What is this again."

Amazingly, once dinner is done all the kids disappear when I ask, "Who wants to help me with the dishes."

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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