Ask me to hang around a playground in the freezing rain for endless hours, with nothing but a cup of Tim Hortons coffee to console me, I won't complain. And honestly, I don't mind having the Alvin and the Chipmunks CD peeping away in the car for the 72nd time that week – really, it's a small sacrifice for my children's happiness.
But please, please don't ask me to cook with the little devils.
While I have fond memories of baking cakes and cookies with my mom, carefully measuring out vanilla essence under her loving gaze or sneaking a chocolate chip into my mouth, I just can't do the same for my own kids.
Each time my toddler son's tiny helpful fingers manage to upend the flour half into the bowl and half down the side of the oven, I want to scream. Then there are the endless squabbles about who gets to put the cinnamon in or who licks the spoon. Usually one kid ends up falling to the floor, because there's no room for both of them at the counter, so it's like a fight to the death to help create a "Death by Chocolate" treat.
Not to mention the ingredients added that don't belong in the recipe. A dash of my son's spit as he dives in to taste the batter for the fifth time. A pinch of pinkeye. Perhaps a soupcon of snot. The only way to eat food a child has prepared should be with a chemical hazard suit on and plenty of antivirals on hand.
Fortunately, I have come up with a form of aversion therapy for my children when they're clamouring to help me in the kitchen. Hey kids! Who wants to help me de-skin these giant chicken breasts, chop a pound of onions, then dice this red chili? No takers? How strange. (Yummy forms of baking are only carried out once I see their dear little faces slack-jawed in the deepest of sleep.)
So alas, baking with me will not be part of my kids' childhood memories. But when I asked my mom whether I should feel guilty about denying my children this pleasure, she smiled ruefully and admitted she hated every moment of cooking with us, too, for exactly the same reasons. And her look of fondness? Probably due to a fortifying swig of cooking sherry.
– Reluctant Baker lives in Montreal.
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