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Once upon a time during my childhood, I remember my mother watching a popular cooking show and noting down the recipe on her short notepad. Areas of interest were pretty clearly defined those days. Sports and news are for men, whereas cooking shows are for the ladies.
Nowadays, things are a bit mixed up. This is largely due to the popularity of super chefs like Sanjeev Kapoor and Vikas Khanna, who was voted recently as “New York’s Hottest Chef.” Add to that the popularity of the MasterChef TV series, and you will conclude that cooking is no longer a female bastion these days.
As a complete food junkie, I am really thankful for the range of Indian and international cuisines that are available in restaurants today. As we normally go out for weekend eat-outs as a family, my son has developed his own tastes and curiosity for different types of food.
When it comes to home cooking, we mostly rely on our cooking bai, but there are days when we do feel like trying out our own dish. Although the choices are mostly limited to egg varieties, mushrooms, pasta, and noodles (it was Maggi before), we are not hesitant to enter the kitchen (as long as my wife does not mind).
So, be it an egg fry or noodle, my son helps me out in the kitchen and also suggest some flavours that could enhance (or destroy!!) the taste. We enjoy this dad-son bonding moments over cooking and our post-cooking discussion on what better we could have done to improve the taste.
So, does cooking really help in child empowerment? I believe so. Here is how:
· New experiences: I really believe that kids are always looking for new experiences. Cooking provides them that, as they can try out different recipes and variations. Successful cooking time can increase your child’s confidence because of a feeling of contributing to the family meal.
· Bonding time: As I mentioned before, cooking is an excellent way of bonding with your child, as long as you don’t mind their messiness!! Try cooking one of their favourite cakes, and you can engage them with their undivided attention. I still remember the time when I used to help my mom prepare a cake.
· Teaches them to be carefree but not careless: Though there are many other ways to teaching this, cooking can be a good method. As a kid, I used to hate doing a careless job at helping my mom with her cooking. Supervise your kid and also appreciate them for their good work. Provide them with tasks, which are age-appropriate, and they are sure going to do a good job of it.
· Stress bursting: As an adult, I find cooking a huge stress buster, as it forces me to focus on the task and forget about all other problems. I can only assume that cooking does the same for the kids.
· Prepares them for the future: Learning to cook a few dishes has helped me, as I am not completely dependent on my cooking bai or restaurant food. Being a stay-at-home Dad, I have the option of a quick cook for managing my occasional hunger pangs. I guess learning to cook will help our children too in the future, making them independent and self-reliant.
I really look forward to the days when my son can try out new dishes on his own, and I am just there to taste it!!
I truly believe that kids can learn a lot through fun play and experimentation, without any pressure. A fun cooking time in the kitchen can be one those ways, as long as it does not become a boring routine. I hope he enjoys his freedom and have a fearless childhood, khuljaye bachpan for him!