Recently I have been forced, excuse me, chosen to spend a couple of hours every day alone with my 8 year old son. My daughter has had plans every morning and has left me to entertain my second born alone. They are really close in age, so usually my kids play together and leave me to get on with the important things in life (cooking (relaxing), cleaning (icky), running (yippee!), reading (not as much as I’d like)). Since I am a creature of habit and with a little bit of selfishness thrown in for good measure, I decided that I would go about my usual business and just include my son in my plans wherever possible, with surprising results.
Every day I try to prepare some part of dinner in the morning hours, so there’s not a mad rush in the kitchen come 5pm. This past week I still did this, but this time with an 8 year old helper who proved himself to be very useful. Shockingly, we both had a lot of fun and the arguing/nagging was at a minimum. I discovered that he is at a good age to (carefully) chop vegetables and any other item that needs to be cut, and he discovered how much fun it is to use a cherry pitter (a task I personally abhor). We made carrot gnocchi together, which proved itself to be a very child friendly task, and since this is a project that requires a big time commitment, having an extra set of hands around was really useful.
My son learned to crack eggs so he could help prepare our dinner strata. Such was my skepticism at his ability to do this without including a million tiny pieces of shell, I told him to crack the eggs one by one into a separate bowl and then pour each one into the master bowl. Not one piece of shell made it into either of the bowls. I was impressed. We made summer rolls together, which is another child-friendly, fun and relatively simple task. Rolling these things is always a challenge, but we had a good laugh at our first attempts and marveled and how well our last few turned out.
Aside from cooking, my son and I biked and ran together this week and talked about many things, from how much we enjoyed our lunch to what we would like to do on the weekend. We threw around the baseball and talked some more. I realized that I don’t talk to my son as much as I do my daughter because talking doesn’t come as naturally to him. I read somewhere once that a person is more likely to open up and talk about things if they don’t have make eye contact. Cooking, biking, running and ball throwing have allowed my son and I to have interesting conversations, with a little necessary distraction on the side.