Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Importance of Creating with Children

Tonight I made bread with my 2.5 year old daughter, as we've been doing for some time now.  I wish I could say I was one of those moms who loved baking - I actually kind of hate it.  Or I should say, hated it...until now.  Cooking is my real passion - without measuring or following recipes, tasting as I go.  Even though my bread machine did all the kneading for us (sorry all you awesome baker moms out there!), my daughter was simply BEAMING at the chance to stand up high on a chair and help me measure the ingredients and slice the butter.  I am constantly striving to find more ways to involve her in things and let her help, as she loves to say, "Can I help?  I'm a good helper!"

She is always so excited to help me in the kitchen, and even asks for her apron and insists that I wear mine.  But tonight especially, she was just radiating bliss, and I was suddenly overwhelmed by two thoughts.  First, I really enjoy these moments with her, and think I may even love to bake now because of it.  Tonight I saw that her involvement makes it a completely different experience, and one that I don't want to miss out on.  I think I may even tackle real bread, just so she can knead it, even though all that keeping track of rise times and whatnot is not for me.  But seeing the joy she'll get kneading that dough certainly is.

The more important realization, something that of course guides our parenting but really hit home for me tonight, was that it is so crucial to create with children - art, music, and especially food.  It gives them a sense of pride being involved, and an understanding that things aren't simply purchased - somebody makes them.  Children are bombarded by consumerism, coerced at a young age to want and need material things, and I think cooking or baking with your child provides an essential lesson that not all things need to be bought at a store. 

I can hardly contain my excitement for this spring, when my daughter will be nearly 3 and can help me in the garden.  She had fun last year helping me rake the soil where we built the new garden, plant seeds, and every time she went outside she'd make a beeline for the garden to try to find things to help me harvest.  We got to taste things off the vine, and then she'd find all those green beans she picked showing up at dinner, where we could thank her for her help and point out those were the same beans she picked earlier.

I look forward to this growing season, when she'll be even more cognizant and able to appreciate more, as well as those seasons in the future when she can learn about composting, canning and more.  While everyone does not have the space for growing their own food, we can still create with our children.  Dance with them, play music with them, paint, knit, sew or do silly crafts with them...make english muffin pizzas if you don't know how to cook.  Even if you're not experienced in any of those fields, they aren't judging.  Help raise a new generation of contributors who will fill the world with more art, music, good food and all around beauty.


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