Toys that can last a lifetime

I can’t believe my little boy is already eight years old, and enjoying the little independence he is learning day by day. He likes being able to do things on his own, which I am happy for him and for myself.

I still have memories of when he was two. We bought him the smallest kitchen playset that I found. I like it small so it fits with other toys in sitting room. That summer his daddy did a BBQ in the garden, Matthew saw this and wanted to copy. Since he saw me assembled his cooker, he asked me to remove the top part. To my surprise, he started to pretend doing BBQ like his father. He also served us pretend tea and his cooked meals.  He loves playing with his kitchen playset.  But as he grows up, he prefers to play with his latest toys.  So I packed away some of his old toys to make way for the new ones.  I packed his kitchen playset away.

Spring cleaning of 2012, I got the kitchen playset out and should had sold it to ebay if my son allowed me. But to my surprise, with teary eyes, he expressed his sadness of having the thought that it has to go. He asked me to unpacked it again. From then on he played with it at least once a week. He cooks meal and we pretend to eat it. But for an adult with lots of real work to do, it can be too much. One very busy Saturday, I snapped and said to him, "why not do real cooking so I can truly enjoy eating the real food rather wasting my time in pretending to eat the toys". He gave me a sad, excited and doubted look. I don't how he managed it, but I did understand his expression. He is sad because of my blunt response and the thought, that I will stop playing with him. He is excited because he wants to cook the real food. And doubtful, for he did not know how. The next day, his daddy will be cooking roast as a post valentine celebration treat. Though it is more likely to be slow when things done with a learner, Matthew joined his daddy in cooking.

He measured the ingredients and mixed the Yorkshire pudding. He peeled the potatoes.

For Matthew, a roast meal has to have pigs in a blanket (these are sausages wrapped in bacon). His father could not find good quality ready made pigs-in-a-blanket, so he bought good quality sausages and bacon Matthew volunteered to wrapped the sausages and do more other prepartion. Later everything is cooked. We all sat down and had a good meal with Matthew's happy and proud expression of: "I cooked these!"

And this started all his interest in cooking. If he likes toast, he now toast his own bread in the morning and spread butter by himself. He cooked his favorite chicken in white sauce from the tin using the microwave. He re-invented the toad in the hole, to snug toad in the hole. He even asked us to teach him how to cook chicken pie.

Cooking for us is not just about eating. For Matthew, it is a about gaining more confident by able to do prepare, cook and serve food for himself, which is encouraged and maybe empowered when he is able to do this for his parents (adults).  Also while cooking, he sees and experiences more application of math (in the form of measurement, temperature and time) and science (as food changes in the process). As for me his mother, I would like Matthew to continue to enjoy cooking as another very useful craft, like treasure - for it is a very useful skill that last a lifetime.  On top off all this, we like him to enjoy cooking, so it won't feel like a routine but just fun, fun, fun! As his daddy always say about cooking "the game you could eat".

Looking back, all these started when he was two, when we had given him a cooker so he can copy his mummy and daddy, cooking for him. Now he is very keen to do the same in return. He enjoys cooking and pleased as he is rewarded by our smile while we eat altogether the food that he cooked. I hope, he continue and never stop to enjoy cooking delicious healthy meal as he grows and making this a part of this lifestyle.