Last Thursday, my son Zack had his friend Oliver over for an after-school play-date. I greeted them with cookies and, if you can imagine, they turned them down when they realized they weren’t homemade. Oliver, who is obviously used to home baked chocolate chip cookies as well, was less-than pleased when faced with Chips-a-Hoy. “Don’t you have any home made?” he asked.
Well, I didn’t, but I offered them a chance to make their own and this turned out to be even better. Within seconds, they were mixing flour, cracking eggs and molding their own giant chocolate chip cookies. With my three-year old following their every move, he was soon covered in cookie dough and my kitchen, lovingly splattered.
The boys worked together, taking turns measuring flour, baking soda, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter and then mixing and mixing until they created cookie dough. They snuck several chocolate chips before folding them into the batter. I listened to them chit chat as they created, and knew that this was a good thing.
As my 11-year old approaches middle school (which I cannot believe!) I will encourage him to cook with friends as another activity. It will be an opportunity to teach them that sometimes the process can be as much fun as the end result. And if we can get the TV and the video games turned off, that’s not such a bad thing either.
At a time in their lives when it’s natural for them to explore the world around them, the kitchen will be a safe haven, for friends to bond, create and stay out of trouble.