Salting the Dough

I cannot even approach the corner of my kitchen between the stove and the sink without my younger daughter working hard to pull over a chair and asking, blue eyes wide, “-Elp?”  She knows that’s my “cooking corner”, where all the prepping and mixing and baking take place.  And she?  LOVES to help.

 

And so, as long as it’s not a dangerous task, I try to let her.  Yesterday, I was mixing up some pizza dough, something I do at least once every single week.  Next to me, on her chair, was my ever-present companion.  She dumped in the cup of warm water I measured.  She sprinkled yeast over the surface.  After that, in went the sugar… and almost all of it made it into the bowl.  Once those three things were in the big metal bowl, it was time to wait.  We always wait a few minutes for it to get nice and frothy.  After a little while passed, she looked up at me and said,

 

“Owl?”

 

“What, Sweetie?”

 

“Owl?”

 

We were near a window, but it was daytime, so I was certain she didn’t see an owl.

 

“Is there a birdie out there?  Did you see a big bird?”

 

She shook her head no and climbed carefully off the chair.  She walked purposefully to the pantry, opened the door, and pointed to the third shelf up.

 

Owl!” she declared.

 

I followed her finger and saw it.  Oil.  The olive oil.  The very next ingredient we needed to add to the pizza dough.  Always, always, I add the oil after the yeast is proofed.

 

And my two-year old knew that.

 

I write this, not to show how clever she is (though of course I think she is!), but to encourage you that, really and truly, it’s not the educational toys or TV shows that teach our children.  It’s not the enrichment activities, music programs, art classes and what-not.  It’s not even some special series of books or computer programs.

 

It’s YOU.  Letting your child into your life, allowing her to follow you through the paces, talking her through the steps of how you complete even the most mundane of tasks… these are moments when you TEACH.  You don’t need gadgets or fancy programs or 300+ channels.  At most, you need a little patience.

 

But, oh, the rewards are so great.

 

Realizing that you- YOU- are, far and away, the most important influence on your impressionable little child?  That’s a weighty responsibility.  I can think of nothing else that would make me watch more words and actions more than that.  But it is such a beautiful privilege.

 

And, so, for the first time yesterday, I let little G. carefully pour the oil onto the measuring spoon and into the bowl.  And I smiled at her obvious joy and pride.

And then salted the dough with a few of my tears…

 

because that, my friends, was a Finer Thing.
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16 comments to Salting the Dough

  • mlearley

    AMEN!!!! I 100% agree with your post. So many people are surprised that my daughter can do tasks that older children do, simply b/c we involve her into almost everything. On Monday’s we take a bag of sheets/blankets to daycare for the start of the new week and this is also our trash day so the morning is pretty crazy. This Monday we were heading out the door and my daughter stops, looks at me and asks “Where is my bag?” She knew based on our weekly routine that she needed that bag even though she didn’t know it was “Monday” she still figured it out. I also have her help mix stuff and the other day when my husband came home for dinner she was able to tell him almost every ingredient that went into the zucchini bread I was baking. It amazes me but they really are taking EVERYTHING in!

    • Oh, I love those stories! They really are SUCH little sponges. I always laugh because my youngest– the one I talk about in this post– truly does not miss a trick. Definitely makes me want to watch my words and behaviors around her! :)

  • Oh, how I love this post! SUCH a great reminder for me, too. The more children I have, the less patient I am with my little helpers sometimes. I feel like I’ve “gotta get it done” and I need to remember that I’m not just cooking in the kitchen, I’m TRAINING and LOVING in the kitchen, too!

  • You just keep hitting the nails on their heads!! Yet again, you have pointed out something that should be obvious but doesn’t appear to be. Are we all so busy we can’t take time to let our kids “help” so that we can help them??? Or are we all so bombarded with the huge number of “educational” toys, equipment, programs, software, gadgets, and even games that we think that we couldn’t possibly have anything to teach our kids when these things were designed by professionals??? Or could it be, that somehow parents have decided that the education of their children is the job of schools and teachers?? Ye Gods!

    Those things are all tools to enhance what unique and personal lessons the parents should be passing along to thir kids!

    Oh, you just said that, didn’t you? Darn!

  • [...] Salting the Dough ~ “It’s not the enrichment activities, music programs, art classes and what-not.  It’s not even some special series of books or computer programs.  It’s YOU.” [...]

  • I love this post! Sometimes it can be so difficult to let them help, especially the days that patience is running low. I keep reminding myself that if he wants to help and it won’t hurt him to just let him help. Just a few days ago I was having that problem but it made him so happy to help. In all the frustration and distraction of 4 year old questions we forgot the baking soda. Of course the muffins weren’t the right consistency but they tasted good and he was so happy to eat them.

    • Yes! You raise such an important point here, too, Amanda! If you involve your children in the kitchen, they always seem to be so much more excited to eat the end product, whatever that may be. I can’t tell you how many “new” or “weird” foods I’ve gotten my children to happily eat just because they were involved in the prep. :)

  • Lea

    This was such a beautiful blog post reminding us how important our daily activities (even the mundane) are in their overall development. When our baby was 7 months, I noticed that he was super fussy for no reason, so I pulled him on the other side of the counter with me, gave him a cooking spoon and a few pieces of food. He loved it and now I pull his highchair up to cook more often. Your daughter is beautiful … Blessings to your family.

    • Oh, I love that you recognized that your son just needed to be involved in what you were doing. You’re forging such special memories by letting him “work” beside you in the kitchen. It makes me smile to envision your baby smiling away with his spoon– thank you for sharing!

  • So true! Can you pop over to my house every morning and remind me to be patient?

  • Miriam

    Aww.. So sweet. I don’t have kids yet. I’m sure it will be hard to have patience, but this is such a good lesson. In a flash a memory came to me that I hadn’t thought about in a long time: I remember vividly the pride I felt the first time my mom let me cut with a sharp knife. I cut ocra with a sharp knife and thought I had arrived in the world! :)

    • Oh, that’s a wonderful memory, Miriam! I remember getting to embroider when I was a very little girl and feeling like big stuff with that poky needle. Isn’t it amazing how these things stick with us?

  • Victoria

    I love this post. I’m such a talker, but sometimes get busy in my own doings at home and forget to narrate and talk to my son (I’m not used to talking out loud at home yet). I need to keep this in my mind so that I can be providing all the wonderful education I can. Thanks for the post and reminder. :-)

    • One of the great perks of having children is that you can talk to yourself without appearing crazy. ;) May I confess something, though? It is very rare for me to run an errand on my own but, when I do, I’ve been known to talk to myself and narrate my adventure just like I would with a toddler in tow. I bet people have thought I was flat nuts before!

  • [...] A wonderful reminder that YOU are your child’s biggest influence (especially in the early years)…and a good reminder that our children are watching us and paying attention to what we do and how we do it (even when we don’t think they are… [...]

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