Growing up, I had quite the taste for experimentation. Considering myself a half decent cook, I would put in great effort to bring life to a new creation. Porridge was the first ‘hot’ food I remember learning to make and this was a great achievement. That day was a milestone in my life young life but, it had nothing on the day I discovered food colouring. That was the day that really changed me. Green porridge! All I wanted was green porridge. I don’t think the phase lasted too long, and certainly wasn’t helped by my dad buying green ketchup, but at that time it was my speciality and I loved it. In hindsight, not the most appetising of foods but as a child it made breakfast exciting and enjoyable.
Occasionally on the odd Sunday morning, my siblings and I would venture downstairs early, on a quest, to bring joy to the hearts of our sleepy parents. We would try to surprise them. They knew. I’m sure they knew, hearing their herd of children tiptoeing downstairs, accompanied by the loud whispers of children trying to get themselves organised. It could only mean one thing. Breakfast in bed. We would put together quite the spread. Cereal with milk and sugar, toast and likely some hot chocolate too. I know. Quite the feast. We were young and in reality, it wasn’t much but it would always feel like we were creating something special.
Picture this. Three to four children under ten, sneaking upstairs. Each of us carrying a different item, trying to be quiet and not trip as we squabble up the stairs. Entering their bedroom, we would get their attention and present them with the grand feast we had lovingly prepared. Looking back, it sounds so cute. I can just picture myself, proudly watching on as my parent’s munch on what may or may not have been an enjoyable breakfast.
Now older, independent and adulting, I’m grateful that my younger self, decided to start developing his cooking résumé at an early age. After reading about the green porridge, I’m sure Kynna will be grateful too. Whether, lasagne, carbonara, shepherd’s pie or something else. I still love cooking. I get lost in it. I especially love adding extra spices and herbs, bringing out all the flavour I can. I suspect this is why I enjoy my Filipino cooking lessons so much from Kynna. Who’d have known, just marinate some meat, add in some ‘soy sauce’, some ‘oyster sauce’ and immediately, this new beautifully vibrant pallet of flavour is revealed.
If you’ve never tried it. Do!
Preparation for Life
Although I love the more creative jobs in the home, cooking, baking… I have a natural disdain for most household chores. Washing, drying or putting away the dishes. Cleaning. Tidying. It’s a struggle… even now.
Despite this being the thorn in my side, I’m grateful. I was blessed to have parents who understood that children need to play an active role in the home. Even if it means doing things they don’t like, its preparation for the future. Each month, we were assigned a job to be completed each day after our evening meal. I was never very fond of this. Overall, I would say, of the available options, washing up became my preferred choice. Known to most, I was ‘Lightning-McWasher-Upper’ the fastest plate washer in the west (not really — that didn’t happen) but over many years I found my rhythm. Cleaning up after eight to ten people, day in day out has that effect on you.
For a long while, cleaning the living room was the golden ticket. Not taking long and if lucky, the TV would be a great distraction. I certainly wasn’t perfect. Dawdling was a great strength. Each evening, with my siblings, I would try my hand. Leaving the table quickly or sneaking away from my job, the TV would go on for a sneaky watch of the Simpsons. It was like a ritual. Inevitably getting caught and being sent back to do our jobs.
So, there are things I don’t like. I have weaknesses and they persist today but in hindsight, I am grateful. Whether it’s cooking, baking, fixing a bike chain, drilling a hole or cleaning a house. I know how to do it. I’ve been taught. From an early age, my parents have taken the time and effort to prepare me. As with Mr. Miyagi’s ‘wax on/wax off’, I didn’t grasp why at the time. I didn’t understand why the hard work was important, but it was. My parents knew it and because of it, I can.
Yes We Can
My youngest brother is Samuel aka. Baby Spice. About fourteen years ago he was a toddler. With his round face and chubby arms, he was a little cutie.
I have a memory. I see my busy Mum with her “one thousand and one” things to do. I see Sam with his young excitement and desire for help with the household jobs such as filling the washing machine. As I think back, I realise just how ‘un’-helpful it is to have a child desiring to ‘help’. But it’s what parents do. Even though they could almost certainly do it easier on their own. They allow it. They know that we need to learn.
Those times when I wanted to learn how to cook or bake. I’m sure it would have, at times, been easier for my Mum to just get on with it. Those times when I wanted to learn how to put up a curtain rail or fix a bike chain. I probably made it more challenging and got in my Dads way. They could have turned me away. Telling me to “wait over there, I’ll do it” but no. They didn’t. Despite everything on their plates with eight kids demanding attention, they have always taken the time to teach. Preparing us. Arming us, with important life skills along the way.
In our kitchen, we have food and I know how to cook it. In our cupboards, we have plates and I know how to wash them. In our bedroom, we have fresh linen and I know how to make the bed. In our laundry bag, we have laundry and I know how to clean them. In our toolbox, we have tools, and I know how to use them.
Cleaning remains my least favourite pastime. That said, thanks to the time invested by my parents, I am capable and I understand the importance. In terms of living life. Gaining enjoyment from creating. Cooking. Cleaning and being independently competent. I can quote confidently these wise words from one of today’s great creators, when he said. “Can we fix it… Yes We Can!! (Roberto El Constructor).
Couldn’t have said it better myself.