Thursday, October 18, 2007

When The Locusts Try To Cook

For kids who eat a lot (and I mean a LOT) - my children are not very savvy when it comes to cooking. The exception here being Havoc, the eight-year old chef. It's really the other four - the ones that range in age between 12 and 16 that I'm talking about. You'd think with them being the ones closest to being out on their own and having to fend for themselves that they'd show a teensie bit of interest in the process. But you'd be wrong.

We've started taking turns cooking supper. Linus has Mondays (as that's the day he's least likely to be out of town); Bet's got Tuesdays; I've got Wednesdays; and the kids have Thursdays. The weekends are mostly fend-for-yourself - which comes as a relief after the kids' night. At first we tried to have the kids cook as a group, deciding on the menu by consensus. Normally, they're pretty good at consensus building (as it's a pretty important skill in a family of eight) but when it came to food they just sort of stared at each other hungrily. We decided to have them take turns being in charge. Accountability, task delegation, planning - all good skills to develop.

The Princessa's turn was first. She did a great job, to a point. She decided she wanted to make a variation on Havoc's stuffed shells by making them with white sauce instead of red sauce. She gave me a shopping list two days before (part of the requirements), she wrote out what each brother was going to do (although they then got together and swapped jobs), and she cooked supper. I stayed out of the kitchen entirely (also part of the requirements.) In addition to being out of the kitchen, I was out of it in general due to my amnesia horseradish. I was not watching the clock. Mayhem (the skinniest and always the hungriest) came in to my room around 7:15 and asked if they could eat supper. I told him the Princessa was in charge and if she wasn't done making dinner then he just had to wait. He told me that dinner was done - it had been sitting on the counter for 20 minutes. Where was the Ninja Princessa you ask (as did I)? She had gone back upstairs to her room to listen to music and read her book. I asked her why she hadn't served supper and she said she was waiting for me. I asked her how I was supposed to know dinner was done if she didn't tell me. She said, "I don't know." I asked her why she didn't call everyone (including me) to supper. She said, "I don't know." There is a bizarre lapse in teenage cognition. Not only that but the table wasn't set, the salad she had planned wasn't fixed, and the pasta dish was cold by the time it made it to the table - an hour later than our normal time. The Ninja Princessa had nothing to offer about her deviation from our well-established dinner routine other than, "I don't know." Bet talked me out of my tree. She was exactly right to remind me that these are precisely the challenges we want the kids to face and figure out on their own.

It's Chaos' turn tonight. It was supposed to be Havoc's next but Chaos started mouthing off about the whole process and got his turn bumped up. To say that Chaos is not quite on board with this system would be an understatement. I told him on Monday night that he needed to have a grocery list to me by Tuesday if he wanted me to get anything. I reminded him on Tuesday. Yesterday when I asked him what his menu was (and mentioned it now needed to be able to be made from ingredients on hand already since he hadn't given me a list), he told me that his plan was to make ramen noodles with alfredo sauce. If "bleck!" is the first word to come to your mind, then you are not alone. Bug thinks it sounds great, but both the Princessa and Havoc made faces of complete disdain. Bet has magically got work she has to do and won't be home. Linus is home but has just had a work call that has pretty much ruined his appetite (as if he had an appetite for ramen alfredo to begin with). Mayhem is planning ahead. He's called dibs on the leftover pizza in the fridge. I'm trying to stay out of the kitchen - but Chaos sounds pretty bossy from in here.

A conversation topic that is sure to come up at supper tonight? What is working and what is not working with this new supper plan. Am I a bad mother if I admit that I am looking forward to Havoc's turn? The dinner bell has just sounded. Pray for me.

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