One-on-one time with each child yields suprising secrets

  • Thursday, September 12, 2013

Over the last few weeks I’ve started looking for opportunities to spend time with each of my daughters, one on one. It’s easy for little personalities to get lost in the mix.

Last Saturday afternoon I told Emma, 7 years old and my middle child, that she was in charge of me for the rest of the day. She grinned her snaggle-toothed, second grader, grin and pronounced, “First, we snuggle.”

We laid in my bed and she curled up beside me and talked nonstop for an hour. Emma told me about school, her sisters and the funniest Youtube videos she’d seen recently.

“So are we gonna just lay here all day or what?” I asked her.

Emma opted for a game of cards, Skip-Bo,to be specific, and we played for an hour before her little sister invaded our space. Sadie snatched cards, jumped on the bed and climbed in and out of my lap, sending cards flying everywhere. We tried to appease her with a movie on my iPad so we could finish our game but Sadie was only happy if she was sitting directly in between us with the volume at full blast.

“Sadie, Emma and I are going to take a nap now,” I said.

Emma started whimpering but I gave her a wink.

“Do you want to take a nap with us or go in the other room?” I asked.

Sadie jumped to her feet, “Peace out girl scout,” she said as she marched out, closing the door behind her.

We finished our game then turned out the lights and snuggled some more.

“Oh. It’s really quiet in here. This is kind of nice, Momma,” Emma said. We curled up together for a short nap, when we woke up I asked her, “Now what?”

“Am I really in charge?” she crinkled her tiny freckled nose.

“Yep. Name it.”

“Welllll, I’ve always wanted to have a cooking show. Can we pretend we have a cooking show and make your wonderful mashed potatoes, roast and carrots?” She looked skeptical.

“You want to help me make that for dinner?” I asked.

“And pretend we have a cooking show…” she added.

“Alright, let’s go to the store,” I said, getting out of the bed.

Emma helped me grocery shop and chattered the entire time. I realized how quiet she usually is in a car full of sisters and listened to every word.

She helped me unload the groceries and got aprons for both of us before we started. Emma hopped on and off of her stepstool, gathering spices and supplies. We mixed and blended, seared and sauteed and she talked and talked.

“Want to know the secret to a great pot roast?” I asked.

“Yes, and this time I swear I won’t tell,” Emma said, referring to the time when she was in 5K and announced to an entire cafeteria of teachers what the secret ingredient was in my award-winning White Chicken Chili.

I raised my eyebrows, “Well this isn’t the same type of secret, but you want to cook the meat and the vegetables in the same pot. That way you get all the flavors of both in your gravy.”

“Oh Momma, that smells so good. I need you to write this down for me so that one day I can make it for my children.”

My heart almost broke, this kid is this sweet, all the time.

“I will.”

“Will you do it now?” She asked.

“I could, but you are 7. I think we can probably make it together a few more times before you need a recipe for your children.”

She giggled.

We played another round of Skip-Bo while the roast simmered and potatoes boiled. And we laughed again when she accidentally admitted she had been chewing the same piece of gum for two days.

“What do you mean? What did you do with it last night?”

“Well you know that girl on Willy Wonka? She chewed her gum for like a month. And I put it on the counter.”

“Gross, let’s not compete with Violet Beauregard. She went down the bad egg hatch, remember?”

Emma spit her gum in the trash and pulled up the stool for her favorite part of the process: the taste test. I tweaked the salt and pepper to her specifications and watched as she spooned a bit into Sadie’s mouth.

I’ll make sure to write down the recipe for her and on the bottom I’ll make a note: Don’t just cook for them, cook with them. It makes all the difference in the world.

The recipe for my pot roast and white chicken chili are available on my website www.robinschicks.com along with special pricing of my first book, “Ketchup is a Vegetable & Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves,” $0.99 for this week only.


Robin O’Bryant is an author, humorist and speaker. Her latest book is “Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves.” Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter and visit my blog at www.robinschicks.com.

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