I SPEAK KID
By ELAINE DONG
I’ve been baking up a storm lately. My country bread failed, but my wholemeal loaf came out of the oven looking like a loaf of bread. My chocolate chip cookies turned into brownies, because when the dough looked too wet to shape into cookies, I poured the whole batter into a shallow square tin, said a prayer and turned on the oven. The brownies turned out okay, delicious even, but I still would like to attempt the cookies.
I admit I’m not very patient in the kitchen. I have trouble following recipes because all I want to do is mix everything and start baking. Who has time to measure butter to the nearest milligram ... which probably explains why half of my baking attempts go awry. But I’m working on it.
It’s the same when my kids are pottering around me as I try to get my head around the hundred ingredients I need to make bread.
While I had idyllic images in my head of my kids helping me measure, mix and knead, none of that happened. It was more about me screaming every five minutes for them not to spill anything or mess up my dough. I also need to work on that.
I should probably learn to have more faith in the recipes, in myself, and in my kids. So what if they spill some flour? So what if they overmix my dough? It’s not like I did such a great job with it anyway.
Therefore, last weekend’s baking attempts will be going into the motherhood hall of shame, not because I failed at baking, but because I was such a horrid, impatient mother. I take full responsibility for turning into a tyrant when the mixer is on and the oven is pre-heating. I am fully guilty of snapping “no” at my kids when they ask if they can help.
How do the other mothers do it? How do they let their kids measure and mix ingredients without losing any hairs? Do they not worry that the cake might not turn out right? Do they not worry about wasting good (and expensive) organic flour because half of the measurements is sure to end up on the floor?
Apparently not. On the homeschooling blogs that I read sometimes, all these supermums advocate letting kids cook because measuring and weighing things are a great way to teach kids Maths. What?
And here I am getting them to memorise their times tables, when all I needed to do was let them bake something? Why can’t I just teach them Maths the old-fashioned way, with a lot of scolding and threats? Why does everything have to be so messy and fun?
I would be contradicting myself here, because I have sagely said to a friend of mine that mess can always be cleaned up. Also, I have on many, many occasions let my kids run amok with finger paints and as they got older, acrylic paints. I’m perfectly fine with them cutting up whatever paper they could get their hands on, and filling every inch of my studio floor with my fabric scraps. That kind of mess, I can live with. Perhaps because that mess is not edible.
That’s it! There’s the answer. I cannot stand it when something that has the possibility of being turned into food be wasted. That would be a really legitimate reason, and would save me from the hall of shame, except I really can’t say for sure that that is my reason for freaking out in the kitchen. I think I just have a strange double-standard when it comes to mess. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.
Much as I hate it, guilt and motherhood are best buddies. The latter cannot exist without the former. If I were a psychologist, I would be telling myself to embrace the guilt and learn from it.
Sure! I’ve learnt that the best time to bake is when the kids are napping or when their father has taken them swimming. I learnt to count to 10 before opening my mouth to scream, and usually manage to lower it by half the normal decibels.
Last Sunday, I learnt not to bawl my eyes out when, after my complete meltdown because they accidentally spilt some chocolate chips, my kids came over and told me they still loved me.
See what I have to deal with? Can you blame me for feeling the guilt? Why can’t they sulk and pout and throw chocolate chips at me? Why can’t they just purposely spill a whole bag of flour so I can feel better about scolding them? Because they’re better than me, and that’s the dream.
Now, excuse me while I go find a hole to crawl into.
If you want Elaine’s recipe for the brownies formerly known as cookies, go to www.angelolli.comwww.angelolli.com.