The very first time I met my future mother-in-law, she gave me a gift.
Her son and I had been dating for a few weeks at the time and were young, know-it-all know-nothing 18-year-olds. It happened to be near Valentine’s Day, a big gift-giving holiday for people you barely know of course, so I got a Valentine’s gift.
It happened to be some pink, jasmine-scented lotion that my roommates and I joked about for years because of some of the words on the bottle that I’m hoping future MIL had just never noticed. It was my first clue that the woman’s love language was probably “Gifts.”
And I…am not like that at all.
I neither delight in the giving nor receiving of gifts except in rare circumstances.
But I’m already working hard on a gift for all of MY future daughters-in-law. It’s important, because my three boys are already 10, 4 and one.
Time to get cracking.
Don’t worry, it’s not jasmine-scented lotion with natural ingredients.
It’s a gift – two gifts, actually! – that I am positive will serve her every day of her marriage to one of my incredible sons.
The first is the gift of real food.
I want my sons to woo young women by cooking them an incredible meal that will knock their socks off (and nothing else at that time, ahem!). I want them to be able to not only feed themselves as adults in the world but also know how to nourish themselves. To not have to rely on boxes and cans, but to know how to buy and prepare fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, homemade baked goods and more.
This one is a kid-made meal! I just made it pretty for pictures.
My daughters-in-law should all receive the immense gift of a young man who cares for his health, who hopefully won’t have to spend his 20s climbing out of bad food habits and ignorance about the impact food has on his body.
I’m giddy with the ability to do this for them, my daughters-in-law for whom I’ve been praying since each son was born (her second gift, and the most important of course).
My husband is most attractive to me not when he’s flexing manly muscles or riding around on his white horse – life is too busy for that. I fall more deeply in love with him after 12 years when he cooks breakfast for the whole family, gets the kids off to school with real food lunches packed, or shows off his incredible, consistent fathering skills. He’s a great example for our boys of what a holy, faithful, sacrificial husband should be.
And since I’ve been spending so much time perfecting the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse, he’s becoming a better cook too.
What am I teaching those boys in the kitchen, you ask?
The oldest knows how to cut onions. (and watermelons and apples and potatoes and carrots and celery and crush garlic and lots of other things!)
He makes a mean cheese sauce with salsa and taco meat, his created signature appetizer.
He rocks out on a huge pot of cheeseburger soup that feeds our family for days. (And the 4-year-old helped cut the biscuits, which he’s proudly showing off, above.)
That 4-year-old also knows how to pour syrup on his pancakes and milk on his granola, cuts cheese and cucumbers for all of us, puts away dishes from the dishwasher and even makes guacamole all by himself (except for the cutting open part).
And the 1-year-old? Well, he’s mostly skilled at taking all our lids and strewing them about the house. But he’s definitely comfortable in the kitchen!
It’s part of the way I want to parent, the responsibility and maturity I want to pass on to them, to teach them to cook. They will be better husbands, fathers, boyfriends, sons, friends and members of society because of it.
Not much about parenting is. Easy, that is.
I know it can be annoying or nerve-wracking to bring kids of any age into the kitchen, even though we wish it was only fun, quality time. I can’t say I love it every time either, but the rewards really are worth it – when we’re eating leftover cheeseburger soup that I didn’t have to make, I silently smile and pat myself on the back.
I’ve heard from a lot of moms who have been testing out the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse that having the course materials to follow along with, having somebody else (me!) to begin the teaching via video, and not having to figure out what to do with the kids at which ages has made a huge difference. They’re saying things like:
“You laid everything out so well that we had a GREAT laid back experience at the stove with FIRE. Who would have thought?!?! SO THANKFUL for this.”
“Actually, it was the best time I’ve had in the kitchen with my kids for a long time!”
“I am loving having help with teaching my kids how to help in the kitchen. I have always wanted to do this but never really knew how to get started.”
“My favorite experience was seeing my daughter’s attitude change…she was really starting to engage and take ownership. [Then at dinner] she was beaming ear to ear and fairly bursting with pride that SHE had cooked real food.”
I put in all the work to place skills at developmentally appropriate ages, choose recipes and write them in kid-friendly language, connect the skills together from class to class, and even to connect lessons at various age levels together so that the whole family works on a snack or meal on the same day.
It’s a rare extracurricular that allows all your children, whatever their age, to be working and participating at the same time, and it’s a lovely thing!
For example, if you have kids at all 3 levels of the eCourse, in Class 3 the Beginner Level will cut mushrooms and zucchini, the Intermediate Level will crack eggs and optionally make rice (depending on their skill level), and the Advanced Level will saute the veggies (plus a few more) and make egg-fried rice. It all connects together and at the end of class, dinner is made! Nearly every class includes age level integrations like this, but it all still works out if you have a child at only one level, too.
One of the most important skills at every level is how to safely use a knife, whether it’s a butter knife or a chef’s knife, and I share that video for free a couple times a year.
I put the stress into the program (my poor, hipster video team from whom I expected ultimate perfection!) so that you can get the stress OUT of your kitchen and simply enjoy being a parent.
I hope you’ll join me in teaching your kids to cook, whether you become a member of the eCourse or simply involve them as often as you can.
And pray for your kids’ vocations, their future husbands or wives, their contribution to the world.
We don’t have to start picking out wrapping paper for this gift yet, but let’s commit to passing on the knowledge of real food and cooking to the next generation. It’s a present for your future in-laws, grandchildren, and beyond, one that will magnify your legacy, even if you are not present to experience its rewards.