Make a bear claw!

Teaching my kids to cook is stressful. As they learn more skills, at any given moment, they could injure themselves. Obviously, this is true all the time, regardless of kitchen efforts, but cooking work is different. Seeing my son with a knife in his hand, forgetting to hold his bear claw, provokes unpleasant visions in my brain and I also feel intense guilt along with them. I would be the cause of any of those possible events of harm. As a person who constantly doubts myself and analyzes various situations to an unnecessary and sometimes, unhelpful degree, I’m nearly always wondering whether my sons are truly ready. Is he ready for that knife? Calm enough? Steady enough? Then, from there, my brain tends to take me on a little chaos ride about other future cooking skills, like frying, using the oven, and handling a food processor. Sometimes, I intentionally do not let my kids cook with me, because I’m not emotionally up for the pressure that having them in the kitchen with me causes. I don’t view this as a failure or a weakness, just an honest view of my brain and what is reasonable to put it through when given the choice to shelter it a bit. When I’m not as concerned that a cooking lesson with my kids will result in a shame spiral and dreams of my children in the emergency room, I have them with me. As a result, my eldest can cook at least one meal for the entire family, using a knife and he safely places it blade against the wall behind the sink faucet. My youngest can make a meal without a knife and is now learning to up his culinary game. In a beautiful moment of ownership, while learning to use a knife and patiently stopping to pat me after another shrill “make a bear claw!!!!” vomited from my mouth, he turned to me and asked if he could make small pieces instead of the slices I normally cut our sausage into. When you’re cooking and making a recipe your own, you can do whatever you want to it. We talked about heat distribution and how some pieces will cook faster than others if you slice with too much variation, but we also talked about how food can taste amazing when textures are different throughout a dish. And then to make sure he knew it was ok, I reminded him, it’s your dish and my only true expectation is that you try and be safe, so please show me a bear claw again.

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