Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Instruction in the domestic arts

Late blogging today; apologies!

First of all, that diocesan situation I mentioned cryptically yesterday may be offering an acceptable solution. I'll let you know for sure in a few days; meanwhile, I appreciate the suggestions of saints to ask for intercession made in the comment box!

Second, the reason for today's late blogging is that I decided today to put into action a plan I've had for a while: letting my girls take over one dinner a week.

They all enjoy doing some cooking here and there, and Kitten, the oldest, has learned to bake a couple of different baked goods from scratch. I decided it was time for Cooking 102, and to move beyond the brownie/muffin/biscuit/various easy-prep foods into the planning, prepping, and cooking of an actual meal.

Since I've been battling a migraine today, we kept it simple: some of these, baked on a bed of sauteed spinach and onions and covered with spaghetti sauce, accompanied by some peas, and with a brownie pie for desert (to celebrate Dad's feast day).

It was fun to have a supervisory role and to watch as the girls prepared the various items, offering my help when it was needed. They learned a few things, too--Kitten, who loves the smell of onions, learned that it really is true that handling them while dicing them is what causes the teary-eyed response; she had to let Bookgirl take over the cooking of the onions for a bit so she could dry her eyes; Bookgirl learned it's still possible to cook peas in a saucepan on the stove when the vegetable steamer basket is in the dishwasher ("But Mom! That's primitive!") and Hatchick learned that cooking dinner is harder than she thought. Well, to be honest, they all learned that--and this, like I said, was a simple meal.

I wanted them to learn that--that even those quick, easy suppers we sometimes have take time, planning and preparation, and that a more complex meal might take some special sort of prep time or enough advance planning to put a few ingredients on our weekly shopping list. I wanted them to work together to see the importance of pitching in when somebody asks you to stir something or measure something. Most of all, though, I want them to learn a skill they'll use whatever their vocation in life: the ability to plan and cook a meal, start to finish.

So every Wednesday night for the time being I'm going to work on teaching them these things, until they reach the point where they can plan, prepare, cook, serve, and clean up a meal with minimal supervision. There are times when I'm going to think that it would be easier just to do it all myself--there will be times when it would be, no doubt.

But the homeschooling day doesn't end when the math book is closed (though the relief of that moment may often make it feel that way). It is every bit as important to teach my children how to cook, clean, do their laundry, and take care of basic necessities as it is to teach them to balance an equation, to theorize about the climate of a specific geographic region, or to analyze a sonnet or lyric poem. The ultimate goal of the homeschooling parent is to teach our children to be adults, and to be ready for whatever calling God has planned for them--and whatever His plan for them may be, it's likely to involve at least some use of the domestic arts.


Irenaeus said...

I like this. My wife and I enjoy cooking, but neither of us learned all the stuff our moms and especially our grandmothers knew. So I can do a little and my wife a little, and we work and try to learn stuff that's been forgotten. Maybe someday life will slow down and we can continue to work on it.

Rebecca said...

That's great! Coincidentally this is the first week I've decided to do the same thing! I've been wanting to for awhile but we're finally jumping in. My oldest is 9 and I'm letting her choose a meal (Wednesday, too!), so we can get the ingredients beforehand. I ended up doing a good deal of it (glazed pork chops with potatoes and corn, and apple pie for dessert) but she did do a lot, and I know she will become more adept. I could let her go with a pie crust at this point, and she now appreciates the prep time in an apple pie. I have let them help me in the kitchen a lot but I really want to see them learn to take responsibility for it. When I was married, I had almost zero knowledge of how to cook--still I'm not a great cook yet, but I do enjoy learning and I'd like my girls to be adept at it as soon as possible. (I'd say boys too but I only have girls so far).

This morning I went and had a bath while I let my eldest make pancakes from scratch (I was trying to get over a migraine too). I only had to get a few ingredients down for her but she did the rest herself, and was very proud of it. She even had to deal with little siblings "helping", like I do, and yet managed to come up with fancy shapes and blueberry eyeballs.