I've ranted before about the absurd and unhealthy obsession in the US that attempts to force independence from infancy. However, it is exciting to see child-initiated steps toward competence and achievement.
Ariana has been saying since she was two or three that she wants to be a chef. Last night, she wanted to exercise her culinary abilities by herself. She went and got the cutting board and a knife, and diced an onion. She put it in the pan, turned it on and began to saute it. As any cook knows, seasoning is of utmost importance, so she had Joelito collaborate. They added salt and pepper, and Joel threw in a good amount of rosemary and some red sugar sprinkles for color. (It would not have occurred to me to add sugar sprinkles, but the color was very nice, and the sugar helped the onions caramelize).
At this point, she came to me for help. I could tell that she wanted to finish the project on her own, so I logged her in to me favorite message board and turned her loose. I had explained before that one of the safety precautions we take on the Internet is using a pretend name. She promptly suggested Caramel (she has been very involved in her own role-playing game based on Candyland, and that is her favorite alter-ego). I thought that Caramel was pretty cute for the daughter of Dulce de leche. :)
She wrote a post introducing herself and requesting help with recipes (her spelling was a little inconsistent--I think it usually came out as "recepes") for onions and rosemary. She was so excited to see the replies! She read them aloud to me and Ooohed and Ahhhed over each one. She also wrote love notes to the posters who responded and asked them to please be her freind (sic). I intercepted her in mid-post as she thanked her new friends and invited them to our house, complete with address (which prompted further discussion about anonymity online).
After thinking about which recipes would work with the ingredients on hand and our allergens, she decided to add butter, garlic and potatoes to the onion-rosemary mixture. Carlos had been a bit dubious about the concoction early on (or perhaps just skeptical of the sprinkles?), but he couldn't believe how delicious it was once she finished it. It was really, really good!
Best of all was seeing how confident and happy my little girl was with her new cooking prowess. Despite my crunchy tendencies, I'm not fully into the while Continuum Concept thing. I found it fascinating, and agree to a point, but I am still too uptight to give it free reign. I'm sure some people are raising their eyebrows at the idea of letting a five year old use a knife and stove--I will say that we are firm about it being under supervision. But who knows? Maybe a decade or two from know, she will be graduating from culinary school and look back at the delight, creativity, self-reliance and independence she felt last night.
Today she wants to help me with meal planning and grocery shopping so that we will have everything we need for her next meal. :)