I had the real gift of growing up in a home where I felt like I was a valuable part of my family. I always felt like my mom needed me, no matter my age or skill level. I grew up on an acreage and we pretty much grew everything we ate. My mom canned all summer long to prepare for the winter. She never complained, nor did she make it seem like it was a burden. But even at the age of three, it was plain to see that there were bushels and bushels of beans to can and that they all needed to be picked (remove the stems and bad spots). My mom could not do it alone, so it was important for me to help. I felt very good when I could help my family.
By the time I was eleven, we were living in town and my mom no longer canned all summer long but instead worked a full-time job alongside my dad while they raised four children. At this age, I managed the grocery dollars and did all of the grocery shopping. I also cooked most of the meals. Again, I felt honored to do this and it was my pleasure to assist my mom and feed my family. Everyone loved my cooking, however simple it was, and it was a great sense of pride for me.
I felt inspired to share this story with you as we move into spring and our kids' cooking camps resume. Home Economics is gone from schools and many busy families can barely find the time to make dinner, let alone take the extra time to involve children in the meal preparation. I think our camps serve a real supportive role in not only teaching children to cook but in empowering kids to get involved in the family meal preparation and planning. They help build our children’s sense of self-worth and importance. I believe that I am a happy individual today because I do not begrudge my work, working hard or serving others. I grew up doing it and learned at a young age that is where true purpose comes from.
Obviously cooking is not the only way to get your children involved and active. When I was just seven, I used to beg my dad to teach me how to change the oil in the car and to make furniture. It seemed only natural to me that these were skills that I should know in life. I understand why he didn’t question my interest or think it was prudent to teach me how to use a table saw at that age. I am always very interested in what our children are begging to learn, what their contributions are in our lives, even at incredibly young ages.
What do the children in your life want to learn?