I like to cook. I'm a funny mish mash of super control freak perfectionist and random crazy little bit of this and that lady. In plain English it means I like to plan and cook a super meal of my own invention and plan. I like to control my food.
Over the years I've learnt that being crazy lady in the kitchen is a bit silly and when people come over i've learned that it's ok to ask someone to cut up tomatoes or cut bread. (Wild I know.)
Sometimes before a big event i'll write myself a list of things I can ask people to do just so I don't say, "Nothing, nothing!" and then slave myself to death in the kitchen.
So since these sweet little darlings I call daughters arrived on the scene I've had to adjust my standards. I can remember shortly after Lu popped out thinking about the kinds of crafts we could do together. I'd bought a few craft books in anticipation of my super crafty motherhood only to realise that my wee two month old was not very good at weilding scissors and tried to eat all the crayons.
But seriously, I remember Myl coming home one afternoon to a flustered and probably pregnant me sitting red faced in the loungeroom. I was covered with glitter, tissue paper and glue. Lu was crying.
I was poised in my usual craft stance. Leaning over, tongue out (for concentration) fingers moving quickly sticking circles of tissue paper in well thought out patterns on some thick white cardboard.
We had been making cards (obvs) and Lu just didn't get it. She had wanted to play with the paper and screw it into balls. Heck, she probably just wanted to stick the stuff up her nose and would have been quite happy doing it but CRAZY CRAFT MAMA LADY wanted to make cards.
With neat flipping tissue paper circles in well thought out patterns on the flipping white cardboard.
Just like I saw on Pinterest!
Kids these days....
Myles sat me down that night and we had a little chat about expectations of nearly two year olds and complicated crafts etc etc. I'm sure there was icecream involved.
So last week when I pulled out my pork mince and gow gee wrappers to make dumplings only to find a tiny curly haired sweetheart pushing her stool over to help, I thought back on that day and decided to let her.
Yes, you readers who have cooked with children in a ten metre radius, I can see you nodding.
I gave Smalls a wrapper and a spoon and watched her dig into the mince. She spooned the mince onto the wrapper and wet the edge just like I showed her.
Then she did some kind of banned origami manoeuvre, the minced wrapper sitting in her lap. Her face was screwed up in concentration. She was doing that sweet heavy breathing that kids do when they are thinking really hard.
So many times my hand wanted to reach out and just... tuck that... in... squeeze it.... just.... something....just. But I held myself back.
And then she was done.
She proudly held out her achievement for me to see.
"Look Mama, dumpling!"
And so it was.
"More dumpling please."
I gave her another, and another, and then Lu came over.
Now Lu, being four is a little more eager to learn the REAL way to do things. So I gave her a little tutorial. We made a dumpling together side by side. But even though her version was much more structurally sound than Smalls' version it was far from perfect.
"Look at the dumpling I've made." she said, beaming from ear to ear.
So, she made another, and another. We three sat in the kitchen making dumplings and giggling and talking. Myl joined us for the cooking and of course the eating.
These were some tasty dumplings. The girls ate many, shrieking with glee when they picked out a recognisable shape. Proud of the tasty morsel they had made.
I could have totally ushered the girls out of the kitchen to watch playschool or go read a book with dada that night. I've done it before and I'm sure I'll do it again.
But that night we made dumplings together.
They were far from perfect, but I think part of being a mama, teaching and leading my girls, is letting them have a red hot go.
They learn that they have skills to refine and value to add to the world.
I learn something too. That it's ok to take a deep breath and not try to be so perfect all the time.
The dumplings that taste the yummiest are the ones made with willing and eager hands.