Parenting

Baking power: What you can learn about your kids while making cookies

Amy is impressed with her daughter's new confidence in the kitchen

Ah yes — it’s that time of year. Time for a little mother-daughter bonding while baking Hanukkah cookies. Tal and I pull out our favourite cookbook — One Smart Cookie by Julie Van Rosendaal. Not only is our recipe low fat, but the batter can also be stirred together in only one bowl. A bonus when you’ve got a kid with little patience for multi-steps.
 
This time, Tal’s not into batter making — so I mix up the sugar, egg, and flour myself. But when we bring out the rolling pin, my girl really shines. For the first time she’s having a blast rolling out the dough. It sticks hopelessly to the rolling pin and we laugh. Together, we press cookie cutters into the dough and load up a tray.
 
Normally I’d deal with the next steps, involving a hot oven. But this time, Tal takes charge. Confidently, she dons mitts and places the cookie sheet in the hot oven. After setting the timer, she turns on the oven light to watch the action. When the buzzer goes, she confidently removes the tray from the oven.

I’m amazed. She’s positively glowing. Honestly, we haven’t done much cooking or baking together lately. But she’s been cooking at school and at special-needs cooking classes — and it’s all paying off. 

 
Then, most surprisingly, Tal says: “I’ll wash the dishes in the sink, Mom.”
 
With a bit of help, she presses the stopper in the sink, squirts in a pond of dish soap and runs the warm water. Grinning, she grabs a sponge, scrubs each item and then runs it under water in the next sink.
 
“Wow — you’re really good at this, Tal,” I say. (We haven’t  taught her how to wash dishes by hand — we use our dishwasher.) “I’ll dry, OK?”

 
“Mom, we should buy some more cleaning supplies — maybe some sponges,” she says. “And some bleach.”
 
“Good idea, Tal,” I say.
 
When the cookies are done, I tell her it’s time for the best part — the decorating! I set out blue sugar, rainbow sparkles and brand new food colouring markers! Woot! (Love it when baking feels like arts and crafts!)
 
“No thanks, Mom,” she says. “YOU do it.”
 
So I do. With a pastry brush I paint on white smooth icing. Then I sprinkle blue sugar and rainbow sparkles on some. Others I let dry and then I colour them with the markers. And I’m loving it!
 
So…..this whole cookie baking adventure makes me think about a few things:
 
-Our kids learn new skills all the time — at school, in the community, at home. And if we don’t push too hard, they’re happy to show off their new skills — when THEY feel ready. 
 
-Sometimes our idea of fun is a bit of a yawn for our kids. For me — the joy of the cookie afternoon was the decorating. For Tal, the best part was proudly demonstrating her new dishwashing skills. 
 
Are you holiday baking with your kids? What part do they like best?